I REFER to the statement issued by the Jawatankuasa Hari Wanita Sedunia 2019 on March 14.
According to the statement, the organisers of the International Women’s Day march that took place in Kuala Lumpur on March 9 are being investigated by police under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA 2012) and Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act.
The investigations by the police are unwarranted, unnecessary and encroach upon the rights of the organisers of the march.
Media reports have shown that the organisers provided the requisite 10 days’ notice to the police. There is no reason for the police to investigate the organisers under the PAA 2012, as the requirement under Section 9(1) of the Act appears to have been complied with.
As for the Sedition Act, it is a colonial vestige that is draconian, repressive, and has no place in any democratic country. The Act contains provisions which are disproportionate and unreasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
The use of the Act is also contrary to the Federal Government’s commitment to repeal the said Act.
Freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of assembly, are fundamental and inalienable rights which are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
These rights should not be restricted or denied merely on the basis that the exercise of these rights is not consonant with the government’s position or is objectionable to some quarters of society. Citizens in this country must be allowed their democratic right to dissent.
I therefore call upon the police to immediately cease all investigations against the organisers of the International Women’s Day march.