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Bill on constitutional right of citizens to assemble
The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 tabled yesterday, if passed, will not require organisers to get a permit beyond notifying the officer in charge of the police district (OCPD) within 30 days before the gathering date.
The bill provides for restrictions and conditions to be imposed by police. These include the conduct of participants, payment of cleanup costs, cultural or religious sensitivity and historical significance of the place of assembly, and concerns and objections.
At the same time, the bill allows for appeals to the home minister against the conditions and restrictions.
The bill was tabled for its first reading by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
In essence, this is how it would work:
The OCPD shall respond to the notification of an assembly within 12 days, outlining the restrictions and conditions imposed;
Any person who fails to comply with the restrictions and conditions shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM10,000;
However, any organiser aggrieved by the impositions of restrictions and conditions may within four days appeal to the minister; and,
The minister shall give his decision within six days.
Nazri said the restrictions were deemed necessary in a democratic society in the interests of the nation’s security.
A person violating regulations, such as organising an assembly at a prohibited place and within 50m from prohibited places, can be fined an amount not exceeding RM10,000.
The assembly referred to is not a street protest and those below the age of 21 are not allowed to organise one.
The proposed act will not apply to election campaigns, union gatherings or pickets as stipulated by their respective laws.
A POLICE officer may take measures deemed necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of an assembly;
A POLICE officer may arrest, without a warrant, any organiser or participant who does not comply with the restrictions imposed; possesses any firearms or recruits, or brings a child to an assembly other than the ones specified;
POLICE have the power to disperse an assembly if it is held at prohibited places or within 50m from the limit of a prohibited place; if the assembly has become a street protest; any person who does any act or makes any statement which has a tendency to promote ill-will, discontent or hostility or does anything which will disturb tranquillity among the public at large.
Among the prohibited places are hospitals, petrol stations, airports, railway stations, places of worship and schools.
Nazri also tabled the Police (Amendment) Act 2011 which does away with the need to apply for a permit to organise an assembly. The bill aims to delete Section 27, 27A, 27B and 27C of the act.