KUALA LUMPUR: The Peaceful Assembly (Amendment) Bill 2019 which, among others, seeks to do away with offences related to street protests was passed by the Dewan Rakyat today.
The bill was passed with amendments at the committee level, which included shortening the notification period for holding an assembly to five days.
Winding up the debate on the bill, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the authorities need a reasonable period of time to make the appropriate preparations.
“The organiser will claim the assembly will be peaceful but, going by past records, there will still be problems,” he said.
Muhyiddin said with the amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, all forms of assembly are allowed if advance notice is given.
If there is anything which can cause a disturbance, violence or loss of peace, action will be taken under the Penal Code against those involved.
He also said at present, only one location has been gazetted as a place of assembly under the act, which is the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, Pahang. The government plans to gazette more areas, including Padang Merbok and Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur.
“Even though other areas are not gazetted, there are no prohibitions from assembling. But, as far as possible, we want to identify other places so that organisers know which places can be used and the time (for application) can be shortened,” he said.
Earlier, during the second reading, Muhyiddin said the bill also proposes a new provision to provide the district police officer to impose compound fines on those who fail to abide by the requirement to submit a notification of the assembly or any other conditions or prohibitions.
“The compound fine for these offences is not more than RM5,000.
“MPs need not worry as offences under this act are considered minor and not criminal offences, which could cause them to lose their qualification as MPs or from contesting in the next general election,” he said.
The Dewan will sit again on Monday.