Bill fails to reflect true spirit of human rights

FMT Staff | November 26, 2011

Human rights group Proham wants the governement to delay the second reading of the Peaceful Assembly Bill to consult concerned groups.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights group Proham is concerned over the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill as it fails to reflect the true spirit of human rights.

“Proham views with grave concern that the proposed Bill fails to reflect the true spirit of human rights which is consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Federal Constitution and the promise of the prime minister to institute democratic reform,” Proham directors Ramon Navaratnam, Michael Yeoh and Dr Denison Jayasooria said in a joint statement here today.

However, the human rights group acknowledged that the proposed bill recognised the citizens’ right to organise an assembly or participate in an assembly peacefully, “although it makes it very difficult in practice”.

“The withdrawal of the permit to assemble is welcomed and reflects the PM’s commitment to further democratic reforms.

“However this is substituted by a whole range of pre-conditions and prior approvals, and restrictive legal provisions, including strengthening the powers of the police, that will severely discourage and dissuade the freedom of peaceful assembly, which is a basic human right,” said Proham.

Proham proposed that the government delay the second reading and commit the Bill to a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) process, whereby there is maximum consultation with MPs, Suhakam and the civil society.

“Proham truly feels that at this point of our nation’s history, we must build on our democratic tradition with consensus building from both sides of the parliamentary divide and the large majority of Malaysians.

“The rushing of such a bill can be construed as unnecessary unholy haste that will not be in the best interest of our nation and our people,” it added.

Proham appealed to the government to consider this proposal as it would enable wider views to be considered before the Bill is made law.

The Bill was tabled in Parliament last week and MPs are expected to debate it starting Tuesday.

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