PETALING JAYA: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has urged the federal government to not follow the example of previous administrations by restricting the public’s right to assemble peacefully.
In just two days, Suaram said police had issued warnings to organisers and potential participants of the “Selamatkan Malaysia” rally on Sept 16, as well as prevented Lawan Lapar protesters from marching to the Parliament to submit a memorandum on food security.
“The rally warnings are an age-old tactic by previous governments to clamp down on highly sensitive public assemblies, even when there is no indication that they would not be peaceful,” Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said in a statement.
Suaram has likened the layered police barricade seen during the Lawan Lapar protest today to the human chains of police at the Malaysian Bar’s “walk for judicial independence” last year.
The rights group claimed that police had imposed “unlawful conditions” at both public assemblies, which led to the submission of the memorandum at the Lawan Lapar barricaded site, while only a handful of representatives were allowed to go to the Parliament for the “walk for judicial independence”.
Suaram said it is crucial that the police facilitate the Sept 16 rally, especially after Perikatan Nasional (PN) said it would cooperate with law enforcement.
PN Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari had previously announced that there would be a rally on Malaysia Day as part of its #SelamatkanMalaysia campaign. The rally is aimed at addressing the issues the government has failed to handle, including deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent corruption trial.
Suaram has called on the government to amend or repeal the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 to ensure that people can fully exercise their fundamental freedom of assembly without discrimination.