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We’ll continue to defy Bill, vow activists

 | December 21, 2011

Despite its passage through the Dewan Negara, activists say they will defy the "draconian law" and continue to oppose it.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights activists say that they will continue to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill (PAB) despite its passage through the Dewan Negara yesterday.

KilltheBill.org, a civil disobedience movement, said that the Dewan Negara had “let down the country greatly” by passing the bill.

The movement has been responsible for organising protest gatherings every Saturday since the bill was cleared in the lower house of Parliament on Nov 29.

By passing such a contested law, the Dewan Negara has “failed its constitutional” function of providing a check and balance to the Dewan Rakyat, said the movement.

“We warn that the passing of this bill will be disastrous, not least because of its all-encompassing nature and its enforcement will either be selective or ridiculous.

“Killthebill.org will continue with our civil disobedience campaigns to show defiance to this ill-formulated law until it is repealed,” it said.

The 39 pro-Barisan Nasional senators who supported the law will go down in the history books as traitors to the federal constitution, it added.

The electoral process of senators, who are appointed not elected, should be reconsidered, said the movement.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, Andrew Khoo, said that the whole parliament had failed the Malaysian public by allowing such a law to come into force.

“The reality is that Parliament has taken away much more than it has given in terms of protecting freedom of assembly, and the people are the poorer for it,” he said.

He said that the election watchdog will continue to protest the bill in “whatever appropriate manner” it deems necessary.

Hopeless law

Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan said that he wasn’t surprised that the law was passed in the upper house as it was merely a “rubber-stamp”.

“There is nothing much to expect from the senate. They are not even elected but appointed.

“The passing of the bill just goes to show that the government is determined to go ahead to implement the draconian law despite all the protests that have taken place.”

“To us it’s a hopeless law…we will continue to step over it,” he added.

Many civil society movements have stopped applying for police permit as required by Section 27 of the Police Act since 1998 due to difficulty in attaining a permit.

The Peaceful Assembly Bill was proposed to replace Section 27 of the Police Act.

“In PSM if there is protest in a public place, we will inform the police to assist with controlling the traffic flow. But we have stopped applying for police permits a long time ago.

“If we do not respect Section 27 of the Police Act, how can we respect this law which is more draconian and leaves so much discretion to a biased police force?” he asked.

Police bias was evident when they assisted the traffic flow during a university students march from Masjid Jamek to Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) last Saturday.

“But during Bersih (July 9), the police themselves obstructed traffic to cause even more difficulty,” said Arutchelvan.

He added that to him, the Federal Constitution recognises his right to assembly peacefully and he need not adhere to any law which goes against this principle.

Suaram coordinator, E Nalini said that the passing of the bill merely goes to show that the senate is controlled by the ruling government.

“Malaysia has never had a good human rights record, but with this law we are moving backwards,” she said.

Suaram, the secretariat of Kempen Kebebasan Berhimpun (Freedom to Assemble campaign), will continue to protest the bill, she said.

Almost 30 NGOs have come together to form the campaign protesting the bill.

When asked if a major protest will be held to oppose the new law, Nalini said that they would continue to voice their opposition but discussions are underway for massive protests.

Also read:

Senate stamps approval on assembly bill


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