Lawyers to march against proposed assembly law next Tuesday

November 25, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee sounded today the bugle and called on the 12,000-strong legal fraternity here to march to Parliament on November 29 and protest the Najib government’s proposed peaceful assembly law.

“If this piece of legislation makes it to the statute books, future generations would inherit a nation that is far from modern and progressive,” he said in statement today.

He urged the lawyers to make a stand and stop the proposed law, which he described as being “more restrictive than the current law” from being passed.

He reminded that the proposed law to replace Section 27 of the Police Act was tabled just three days ago and is now in its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat and will likely be passed after the third reading, but said the lawyers’ march may still persuade prime minister to change his mind.

The lawyers’ march on November 29 will start from the entrance of the Royal Lake Club, roughly 1.4 km away from Parliament building.

Lim (picture) asked lawyers to meet at the entrance at 11.30am and to dress in their black-and-white court attire.

Yesterday, Lim urged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to put the proposed law before a Parliamentary panel and seek public feedback before passing the piece of legislation.

“We feel let down by how far short this Bill falls in relation to what the Malaysian people were promised in the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Day 2011 message. In short, the Prime Minister must walk his own talk,” Lim said today.

The Peaceful Assembly Bill was introduced to replace section 27 of the Police Act as part of Najib’s raft of reforms promised during his Malaysia Day message in September.

Najib, in defending the new assembly law yesterday, had described it as “revolutionary” and a giant leap towards improving individual freedom.

But civil society group and lawmakers are strongly against the Bill, claiming it was more repressive in nature than current laws, and want the administration to withdraw it from Parliament.

Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said earlier today that Malaysians will have less freedom under the government’s proposed new law governing public demonstrations compared to Myanmar, a country which has one of the world’s worse human rights record.

Myanmar had also this week passed new legislation that allowed street protests, and provided for less stringent conditions than the Najib administration’s proposed Peaceful Assembly Act.

Opposition MP Lim Kit Siang has also criticised the ruling Barisan Nasional government’s proposed law and suggested Malaysia should copy the Myanmar legislation.

The DAP politician said that although Malaysia’s assembly law was patterned after the Queensland Peaceful Assembly Act 1992, it included additional provisions that grant the police powers to arbitrarily restrict the right to free assembly.

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