Big ‘aye’ to proposed changes to the Act

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 02 Jul 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Early reaction to proposed changes to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) is a big “aye”, with the former minister in charge of law leading the chorus of support.

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said she was prepared to back the amendments if there was “balance between freedom of expression and public security.”

“The previous government did not allow it. Maybe it is good progress to allow freedom of expression. But make sure that it will not affect the economy,” said the former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department whose portfolio then encompassed legal matters.

Azalina, who is Umno’s Pengerang MP, however cautioned that if there was unlimited freedom, some investors could be concerned over “stability” to do business.

PKR’s Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who is the former Bersih 2.0 chairman, said the proposed amendments proved the Pakatan government’s commitment towards advancing freedom of assembly, expression and association.“Much of these principles are alre­ady in our Constitution,” she said.She suggested that the notice required to be given to the police be reduced to 72 hours, including extending gazetted areas for peaceful assemblies to include more venues such as Dataran Merdeka.

DAP’s Sandakan MP Vivian Wong, who was sworn in yesterday, regarded the proposed amendments as a positive step towards nurturing a more democratic society.“We want to encourage our citizens, especially the youth, to express their views and opinions and be involved actively in our nation-building process in a responsible and mature manner,” she said.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N. Surendran welcomed the proposed amendments, saying: “It is correct and constitutional that street protests are to be legalised.”

However, he expressed disappointment that failure to give notice under Section 9(5) of the PAA remained a crime.

“The penal sanction for failure to give notice should be removed entirely instead of being reduced to seven days,” the ex-PKR MP said.

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