Given the more restrictive features of the newly proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011, Aliran calls on the government to withdraw the undemocratic bill unconditionally from the current Parliamentary session.
Not only is the Bill an affront to the supposedly reformist political agenda of the Najib administration, it also violates the very fundamental human right of citizens to assemble peacefully in the public domain.
For one thing, to require the organiser to inform the police at least 30 days prior to the planned event is a tall order as it automatically invalidates the spontaneity of street protests. Surely calling for a rally cannot be equated with a plan to, say, organise or attend a rock concert.
Equally appalling is the immense powers given to the police to impose restrictions and conditions such as the date, time, duration, venue, manner and conduct of participants during an assembly. It begs the question as to why the government wants to insists on having such tight controls over an assembly that is supposed to be peaceful.
Yet another instance of a downright illiberal approach to freedom of assembly is the prohibition of assemblies at or within 50m of places such as water and power utility plants, petrol stations, places of worship, kindergartens and schools. Would it then be possible to demonstrate in front of, say, the controversial Lynas facility or another Bakun Dam? Will there ever be a demonstration at a mosque or Masjid Negara after Friday prayers?
These are some of the more restrictive features of the new Bill, which ironically was supposed to liberate our society and enshrine civil liberties.
Aliran calls on the government to withdraw this Bill and respect the fundamental rights of the people.
Aliran Executive Committee
24 November 2011.