3:58pm 15/09/2023
Peaceful assembly an integral part of democracy
By:Sin Chew Daily

The Malaysian Constitution provides the citizens the right to participate in peaceful assemblies, because peaceful assemblies are an integral part of democracy.

PN Youth has planned to stage a Save Malaysia rally on this Saturday, September 16 Malaysia Day, at Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, to protest the DNAA granted to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of his 47 charges in relation to Yayasan Akalbudi.

It is within everyone’s expectation that the decision to hold the rally will invite the powerful backlash from elected representatives in the Unity Government.

Sungai Besar Umno chairman Jamal Md Yunos earlier vowed that he will get the “Red Shirts” to assemble on Saturday to counter the rally of PN Youth.

PH reps, meanwhile, insist that everyone has the right to protest, but acts against the law will not be tolerated.

Lest we forget, when they were in the opposition, they were regular participants and organizers of many anti-government demonstrations.

As such, they naturally are not in any position to deny the PN of their right to take to the streets, now that they are part of the government.

The Malaysian Constitution provides the citizens the right to participate in peaceful assemblies, because peaceful assemblies are an integral part of democracy.

PN Youth says the September 16 Save Malaysia rally is only a game-opener, and they are prepared to get more Malaysians, in particular the youth, to join their campaign to boost public awareness on Ahmad Zahid’s cases as well as the country’s judicial independence.

As the name suggests, a peaceful assembly must not be marred with actions that could trigger social unrest or jeopardize the existing social order, thus affecting the people’s day-to-day lives and business activities.

For sure PN has the right to hold the rally, and has the obligation to ensure that the rally is carried out in a peaceful manner.

In the meantime, there is no need for Jamal to stage a counter-rally as this may aggravate the conflict and generate unnecessary tension.

KL police chief Allaudeen Abdul Majid says the police will be adequately prepared to deal with Saturday’s rally but have no plans at this juncture to close any road in the capital city. However, he says the police will mobilize sufficient manpower to the site of rally in accordance with the situation.

So far the city police have received six complaints about the rally, and have summoned relevant individuals for their statements.

However, the police reiterate that they have yet to receive any permit application nor notification from the organizers.

In the past, under Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, any organisation planning to stage a rally had to obtain the permit from the police, and the police would decide whether or not to issue the permit.

Nevertheless, this law has since been repealed and replaced with the Peaceful Assembly Act 2021.

Under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act, rally organizers will only need to notify the police ten days ahead of the planned assembly, while Section 9(5) provides for up to RM10,000 fine punishment for assembly organizers failing to provide the ten-day notice.

Lawyers are of the view that the police have no right to reject the notification and have no right to stop the assembly, either, even if the organizers could be fined for not serving the notice as required. The police have the responsibility to provide the facility and ensure the safety of all participants while maintaining social order.

On the ten-day notice requirement, the court earlier ruled that criminalize any act whereby the notice has not been received by the police on time is unconstitutional, because it is illogical for people to wait for up to ten days to hold an assembly.

In the 2014 court ruling, the Court of Appeal was of the view that the people had the right to assemble peacefully.

However in 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled in another verdict that this was not unconstitutional. The court was of the opinion that criminalizing any act whereby the notice has not been received by the police on time did not constitute restricting the people’s right to assembly, but that such a right needed to be controlled.

Anyway, the similarity in these two verdicts is that the police permit is not required for any peaceful assembly, but the point of contention here is whether the rally organizers should be fined for failing to notify the police ten days in advance.

PN Youth’s September 16 rally should be given the go-ahead, but it has to be conducted in accordance with the law.

After the participants have had their messages conveyed, they should disperse and restore the site to its original form in a show of true democratic spirit.

The police have stressed that they will carry out their duties as per the law, and Minister of Economy cum PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli has also emphasized that the government will not interfere in the police carrying out their duties.

PH, meanwhile, has pledged to amend and repeal any repressive law that could be abused by the authorities to limit the citizens’ right.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they will walk the talk!


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