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Bar Council: Allow assembly to go on

 | December 30, 2013

It is the constitutional right of any Malaysian to assemble peacefully in public, whether in celebration or in protest, says Bar Council president Christopher Leong

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Bar Council has called on the government and police to facilitate the peaceful assembly planned at Dataran Merdeka tomorrow night to protest price hikes in the country.

Its president, Christopher Leong, said it was the constitutional right of Malaysians to assemble peacefully in public, whether in celebration or in protest.

He said this would be a legitimate expression by Malaysians of their concerns or objections, and an exercise of their constitutional right.

“The existence of other avenues of raising their objections, such as petitions, writing letters of complaint or speaking to elected representatives, will not displace the right to peaceful and orderly public assembly,” he said in a statement today.

Leong said in accordance to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the police must respect, promote and protect the exercise of the fundamental freedom of assembly and expression during such gatherings.

“The provisions of the Act must not applied narrowly to frustrate its purpose.

“The police have in effect had more than 10 days notice of the planned event. The fact that the police have been speaking about the gathering is itself evidence of their knowledge,” he added.

Leong said the police should use the 10-day notice period so engage with the organisers to facilitate and not prevent the assembly.

“The 10-day notice is to allow time for the police to make arrangements to facilitate an orderly and safe assembly.

“The police should therefore spend time engaging the organisers instead of thumping their chests and rattling their sabres,” he said.

The Bar Council also reminded organisers to ensure that the freedom was not abused.

“We also remind organisers to take all reasonable action to ensure a peaceful assembly,” he added.

The mass rally at Dataran Merdeka on new year’s eve are planned by NGO Gerakan Turun Kos Sara Hidup (Turun) and Gerakan3112.


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