Peaceful Assembly Act should promote right to assemble, not curb democratic expression

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Bersih 2.0 is disappointed with the response of Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who has declined to allow the Anti-Kleptocracy rally to be held at Taman Padang, Petaling Jaya.

The reasons given by the inspector general are flimsy and show that he has failed to understand that, while the 10-day notice period is given to inform the police under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the police do not have the authority to decide the venue nor do they have the final say as to whether the event will proceed or not. Their role is to facilitate and protect the right to peaceful assembly and not to criminalise it.

Today, Bersih 2.0 won at the Federal Court when the attorney general’s bid to strike out a Court of Appeal decision (that had struck off charges under the Peaceful Assembly Act against our chairperson Maria Chin) was dismissed. This ought to send a positive signal to the authorities on the right to peaceful assembly.

The right to peaceful assembly is an important part of the wider democratic process in Malaysia. The inspector general and the government should listen to and address the legitimate demands of the people and work together to address critical issues and improve the living standards of ordinary Malaysians. Informed government policies can only be achieved through engagement and participation with the Rakyat.

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Bersih 2.0 urges the inspector general of police to allow the Anti-Kleptocracy rally on Saturday to go ahead and assist in facilitating the gathering. Mohamad Fuzi Harun is in prime position to mark a shift in the police’s approach towards public gatherings and rallies, compared to his iron-fisted predecessor’s approach of outlawing rallies in the past.

The inspector general proved the police force was ready for a change in recognising the right to assemble that all Malaysians have under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, as seen in last month’s Women Against Toxic Politics gathering. In the same vein, Saturday’s rally at Taman Padang, Petaling Jaya should be no different.

We call upon all citizens to attend the Anti-Kleptocracy rally on Saturday, 14 October 2017 and stand tall against suppression of citizens’ rights and freedom to assemble.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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