The imperative march against the Peaceful Assembly Bill

By Low Teck Kuan
November 26, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

NOV 26 — Have you ever felt a sense of discomfort sitting on your chair whenever you read the news?

Or sometimes (most of the time for me) a sense of disbelief and appal at how politics has screwed our rights, liberties and monies over and over again?!

Just when we had to digest all the poor spending and misappropriation (for example, the Auditor-General’s Report, the National Feedlot Corporation scandal and Kedai 1 Rakyat Malaysia fiasco), now we are told that a Bill will be passed to restrict our natural right to assemble!

The government tells us that we can assemble, and it says it is “revolutionary”. However, they seek to implement various criteria and obstacles before we “can”, or rather more accurately, be allowed to assemble (one fine example would be the requirement of a 30 days’ notice). This clearly illustrated the government’s pure hypocrisy in singing the tune of “best democracy”, “revolutionary” or even “upholding democratic principles” when it in fact it seeks to restrict the rakyat’s natural right to assemble!

Taking into consideration the beautiful wording of section 2 (a) of the Bill which recognises “… citizens… right to organise assemblies or to participate in assemblies, peaceably and without arms”, one ponders how he/she can exercise that right if he/she has to subject himself/herself to unreasonable conditions first.

In addition, this Bill and its restrictions can only point us to the fact that the government intends to stifle dissent of the people who express themselves through street protests. One would also suspect that such a proposal was drafted in the memory of the previous Bersih 2.0 rally, which was organised to advance the cause of having a free election (much to the embarrassment of our government who had handled the situation poorly).

As the rushed Peaceful Assembly Bill is already at its second reading, a quick and drastic action must be taken. A strong message with the force of changing federal lawmakers’ actions must be sent across collectively. At this rate, any delay or indecisiveness will only permit this Bill to be passed into an Act. As this Bill only requires a simple majority from Parliament, any opposition or proposed amendments in the parliamentary debate by opposition lawmakers will have insufficient effect or inadequate persuasion for this Bill to be thoroughly reviewed. Hence, a mass collective voice is urgently needed. More so from the organisation that eats, sleeps and breathes the law (i.e. the Bar Council).

Legal practitioners are bound by the Legal Profession Act 1976, and one most important provision which defines the very soul of this noble profession lies in section 42 (1)(a) which states that:

“(1) The purpose of the Malaysian Bar shall be —

(a) to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interest or that of its members, uninfluenced by fear or favour.”

Therefore, let us, as lawyers (and pupils alike), pursue the cause of justice by protecting the very fundamental human right that is the right to freely assemble! Let us show to the public the true reason why the legal profession is said to be a noble one by upholding and promoting just laws and fundamental legal principles in accordance to our moral and legal obligation! Let us also demonstrate to the lawmakers, without fear or favour, our opposition (as readers of the law) against such a restrictive Bill!

Fellow honourable members of the Bar, regardless of the location you reside or practise in, let us step out of practise momentarily and appear on November 29, 11.30am at the Royal Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur to object against this Bill that threatens the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human and individual rights!

  1. #1 by monsterball on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 10:46 am

    The fact that members of the Legal Council.. are speaking against the Bill and are marching tomorrow to protest it…has much to be admired and respected.
    Only a handful of chosen selfish …low class lawyers and judges are puppets to UMNO b.
    First time they marched…followed by BERSIH 1…before 12th GE.
    And after 12th GE…UMNO b is not serving the people as promised.
    It is a non stop promoting their part…for three years..with all sorts of stunts.

  2. #2 by dagen on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 11:00 am

    Jib said the act is revolutionary for it gives us the right to assemble? Wow that is quite something huh? But I thought the right to do precisely that was already ours to begin with! It need not be given to us. We already have it. You see for one thing, to assemble is human; and for another thing, our constitution quite sensibly recognises that right. Jib really has nothing more to give in terms of the right to assemble. But strangely by the same revolutionary Act which he thought he had given to us that right to assemble, he actually chipped away large chunks of our existing right. He does it with loads of undefined and discretionary powers granted to umno and the umno-controlled police force to prevent assembly; and he also banned assembly from certain places.

    In short, he is gave to us what is already ours and in the process of giving took away lots of our rights. And he expects us to clap and leap and cry in joy.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 11:04 am

    Justice is on People Power side….no matter how much Najib wishes to twist and turn justice to suit his party whims and fancies.

  4. #4 by undertaker888 on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 11:05 am

    Umno kind of best democracy which will cause a revolution amongst us. That’s how revolutionary it is.

  5. #5 by Comrade on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 12:09 pm

    Why the rushed creation of the dubious Act?
    BN must be scared of Bersih 3 the most
    For their protection as a matter of fact
    Umno/BN’s way of winning at all cost

    People Power must come to the fore
    PR’s victory need all of you to ‘tolong’
    Corrupt BN is not needed anymore
    Come GE13, we ‘fry the BN’s sotong’

  6. #6 by jus legitimum on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 12:53 pm

    The devil Umno/BN still treats the people as fools and morons.Come tomorrow the people will march with the Bar Council to demonstrate to the devil that our tolerance to all their nonsense has reached our upper limit.Bersih 3.0 should be called now and launched nationwide.

  7. #7 by drngsc on Monday, 28 November 2011 - 6:48 pm

    This bunch of leaders that we have, are a bunch of double talkers. They are so insincere.
    And MCA, your silence is deafening. You are history. Let us make MCA history at GE 13.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is our best chance despite the PAB and all the recent ploys. Failure is not an option. See how they are manipulating. Let us all work very very hard. Let us make MCA history.

  8. #8 by Iwantchange on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 - 5:45 pm

    BN’s attempt in putting a halt to Bersih 3.0 is counterproductive – Their archaic minds and ways are fuel to our fire!

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