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Malaysia: Netizens React to ‘Peaceful Assembly Bill’

Categories: East Asia, Malaysia, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Protest

The Malaysian Parliament has approved the controversial Peaceful Assembly Bill [1] which gives police and government authorities broad powers [2] to control and even ban street assemblies and protests. Malaysian activists criticized the government for passing this measure which they described as an attack on civil liberties and freedom of speech.

Using the hashtags #walk4freedom [3] and #PA2011 [4], netizens reacted to the quick passage of the bill. A #walk4freedom was organized [5] by lawyers and civil society groups to dramatize their protest

@edmundbon [6] Kudos to all who were #Walk4Freedom for the discipline organisation and spirit. We showed Msia we can rally peacefully.

@nikicheong [7] Good morning. Shout out to all those who joined #Walk4Freedom today. Disappointed with MPs who walked out though. :(

@PangKheeTeik [8] The people are not ANTI-government. It's just the government is ANTI-people.

@AdrianNCF [9] Special funeral service tomorrow at Parlimen 1Dec 8pm for the passing of Malaysian Democracy #OccupyParlimen

Below is a video [10] of the protest march by lawyers

Through #PA2011, we learned that some netizens are not happy over the walkout staged by the Opposition in the Parliament during the deliberations and voting for the bill

@humanrightsSEA [11] Which other country has law banning “street protest”? #PA2011 #Malaysia < < N. Korea? Others?

@j_rubis [12] PR MPs had no choice but to walk out, when they introduced amendments to #PA2011. The objective is to oppose the bill all together.

@mpkotabelud [13] Democracy at times is best summed up as: The minority will have its say, the Majority will have its way. Live with it. #PA2011

@meshloop [14] Whatever the Oppo MPs wanna say now, I am so disappointed in them. Your job is to stay in there & fight for me, damnit.

@boosulyn [15] It took 6 years for the Domestic Violence Act to be passed by Parliament, but just a week to pass

@vangeyzel [16] Perspective: We should be angrier at our MPs who voted FOR the Bill in Parlimen than those who walked out.

@Khairykj [17] Have to say lawyers who marched this morning to Parliament against #PA2011 have more courage & conviction than Opposition MPs who walked out

Niki Cheong [18] defends the right of the people to express themselves

I don’t always understand the issues people are protesting, or don’t agree with their opinions, but I will defend their right to express themselves. And if this takes the form of a protest, so be it.

Instead of making it harder for people to exercise their rights, I wish that more Governments (our own and others around the world) would instead work with protestors to make sure that it is, if not a win-win situation for both sides, at least one of compromise.

It reflects best on both parties – the protestors and the one being protested against – if such an event is executed well. It shows trust, cooperation and respect – all important ingredients of a democracy.


Protest Vigil Against the Bill. Photo from @cindilse

Front Line [20] urges the authorities in Malaysia to:

Extend the review process by the Senate by at least three months to ensure proper scrutiny of the Peaceful Assembly Bill in order to ensure that it conforms with international human rights standards;

Hold proper consultations with human rights defenders and organisations and seriously take their concerns into account;

Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisations in Malaysia are free to carry out their legitimate activities in defending and protecting the rights of others, without fear of reprisals and free of all undue restrictions.