A bill was read for the very first time on Tuesday, the 22nd of November with all Members of Parliament being given the FIRST chance to read it on that very same day. That very bill is set to be passed by a BN majority Parliament this coming Tuesday, 29th November 2011. Have you heard about it? Do you know of any of its details other than the word “peaceful”? It is known as the PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY BILL 2011 (PA 2011). Why is this Bill being rushed by BN through the Parliamentary process? Here’s why. If Bersih 2.0 were to have happened after this Bill was passed by a BN majority Parliament…
1. The rally would not have been allowed to have been held on any street – S4(1)(c)
2. Your international Press such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Reuters, or any news agency with a foreign anchor or correspondent will not have been allowed at the assembly – S4(1)(a)
3. The rally would not have been allowed to be held within fifty meters of places such as Tung Shin Hospital, the Masjid Jamek Mosque or any place of worship, Fire Stations, Petrol Stations, etc – S4(1)(b) – or any place/area that the Minister may declare as “protected” as and when he deems it necessary i.e. possibly places/areas like Dataran Merdeka, KLCC, Stadium Merdeka, Istana Negara, Putrajaya, Parliament, etc – S4 & S5 of the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act 1959.
If you were present, assembling at one of these “protected” places/areas, the Police may have ordered that the assembly be dispersed* – S21(1)(a) and ANYONE assembling in such places may have been fined up to RM20,000 – S21(3).
4. If Ambiga, or anyone of the organizers were below 21 years of age, she would have been fined up to RM10,000 for organizing the rally – S4(2)(d) & S4(3).
5. If your child was present at the rally, he/she would have been fined up to RM10,000 – S4(2)(e) & S4(3).
You, as a parent who brought your child along would have been fined up to RM20,000 – S4(2)(f) & S4(4).
6. Those men and women who support other assembly participants/rakyat by way of words spoken through a hailer/microphone to inspire and motivate; if deemed to have made any statement which would have had a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will, discontent or hostility amongst the public at large – as all-encompassing as that is – grants the Police the authority to order the assembly to disperse* – S21(1)(c) – and expose those with the hailers/microphones to a RM20,000 fine – S21(3).
7. A Police Officer may have used tear gas, chemical-laced water, batons and shields as well as arbitrary arrests on participants IF the officer deemed such measures to have been necessary in ensuring the orderly conduct of the assembly in accordance with the new Bill/soon to be law – S8.
8. In order to legally conduct the rally, consent would have had to have been obtained from the owners of Petaling Street, the Masjid Jamek area, the Chow Kit area, Dataran Merdeka, and Stadium Merdeka – S11. Who owns these places, and how feasible would it be to obtain such consent?
9. The Police would have been able to stipulate where, when, for how long, and in what manner the assembly was to be held through enforceable restrictions and conditions – S15(2).
Failure to adhere to these restrictions and conditions in S15(2) would have resulted in arrests without the need of warrants – S20(1)(a) – or a fine of up to RM10,000 – S15(3).
The Police may have also ordered that the assembly be dispersed* – S21(1)(e).
10. Media representatives would be given reasonable access (whatever “reasonable” may mean) but media representatives does not include your international Press such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Reuters, or any news agency with a foreign anchor or correspondent – S4(1)(a).
*For every instance where the Police are granted power to order the assembly to disperse, they may use ALL REASONABLE FORCE – S21(2). – NO clear definition of “all reasonable force” is to be found in the Bill.
If you are wondering why this Bill is being RUSHED in Parliament and why there isn’t any proper discussion or information being disseminated regarding this Bill, it is probably because the provisions of this new Bill are WHOLLY INCONSISTENT with the words and promises our PM uttered on Sept 16 2011, Malaysia Day.
The Act expressly protects the right to peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions, the right to freedom of movement, the right to enjoy the natural environment, and the right to carry on business BUT IGNORES the right to free speech and expression, and the right to assemble peaceably without arms.
What can you do about this?
This blog shows the various ways we can contact our MP and express our views (via fax, email, SMS, photos, video, etc.).
There is also a Facebook page calling on Malaysians to reject the Peaceful Assembly Bill.
So, please do help to spread the word far and wide! We only have till Tuesday to really drum up support :-) and let’s encourage people to be as creative as possible in their responses!
See you on Tuesday for the Walk4Freedom to Parliament!