The Plan of Action for Malaysia (PoAM) Coalition urges the Government to immediately withdraw the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which is unconstitutional and more repressive than the existing Police Act.
PoAM urges the public to join the protests organised by Kempen Kebebasan Berhimpun (KKB), the Bar Council and other civil society groups as well as overseas Malaysians against this act. The events scheduled so far are:
1. Vigil: (a) 26th November, Saturday 7.30pm, Dataran Merdeka
2. Walk: (a) 26th November, Saturday 2-3pm, KLCC park near water fountain; (b) 29th November, Tuesday, 11.30am, Lake Club to Parliament
3. Public Forum: 29th November, Tuesday, 8pm, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
PoAM reminds the public that in 1981, the then new Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad too attempted to amend the Societies Act to cripple political participation of associations, but the amendment was defeated by a united front of civil society groups coming from all backgrounds.
PoAM is therefore confident the bill will have to be withdrawn or be rendered unenforceable if the public pressure continues to mount.
PoAM holds that the hefty fines of RM 10,000 for assembly organisers who fail to notify the police 30 days in advance and RM 20,000 for assembly participants who fail to disperse as instructed by the police are proposed in bad faith. This is in fact much worse than the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Bill passed by Myanmar which requires only 5 days notification to the police.
Such fines are beyond the means of average Malaysians and are meant to silence ordinary Malaysians from middle and lower class backgrounds. Such fines can also be used to disqualify elected representatives, in the hope that this will deter them from joining the public.
In our opinion, if the People allow this bill to be passed, the people will not be able to hold any demonstration or rally to express their opinion in most urban areas. Under the law, Assemblies are prohibited within a 50-meter radius from petrol stations, police stations, religious places, schools and eight other categories of “prohibited areas”, most of which are commonly found in urban centre.
It is PoAM considered view that when governments are protected from criticism, they will have little incentive to check corruption, arrest power abuse and reverse unpopular policies. This will eventually lead to political instability and conflict.
PoAM calls upon the government to withdraw the proposed Bill immediately and to consult major stakeholders including civil society before retabling the Bill.
PoAM feels that if the Peaceful Assembly Bill in its current form is passed, is a potential time bomb that can result in societal disharmony and chaos. This is something that all right-minded Malaysians do not desire and would rise to prevent.
Issued by GBM which comprises of the following organisations:
1. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
3. Tamil Foundation
4. Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
5. Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Krisitian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MPMAM)
6. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
7. Penang Chinese Town Hall (PGCTH)
8. Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
9. United Chinese School Alumni Association of Malaysia (UCSAAM)
10. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
11. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
12. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
13. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
14. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas)
15. Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
16. National Interlok Action Team (NIAT)
17. People’s Green Coalition (PGC)
18. Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
19. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
20. Partners in Community Organising (Pacos Trust)
21. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia