BATU PAHAT, Nov 17 — The Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 protects the right of all Malaysian citizens to assemble peacefully without arms, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today ahead of the Bersih 5 rally that has been declared “illegal” by authorities.
Suhakam told the government and universities that they would be contravening Article 10(1) of the Federal Constitution that protects the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association, if they curtail the right to assemble peacefully through rulings.
“While the right to counter-demonstrate has to be upheld, the police and authorities must ensure that the actions of counter-demonstrators do not degenerate into intimidation and rioting.
“It is therefore incumbent on the police to ensure that all Malaysians are able to articulate their positions and opinions responsibly,” Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement.
He added that Suhakam will be monitoring the planned rallies.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told a press conference today that both Bersih 2.0 and the pro-government Red Shirts movement, which plans to organise a counter protest to the Bersih 5 rally this Saturday in the capital city, were not “obeying the law”.
Monash University reportedly told students that those who participate in an “illegal gathering” may face disciplinary action, but the private institution later apologised for the “wording” of its email warning, according to news portal Malaysiakini.
New Straits Times Online reported Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa as saying today that civil servants who take part in either the Bersih 5 or Red Shirts rally will face disciplinary action, including termination and salary deductions.
Polls reform group Bersih 2.0 insisted today that it has complied with requirements under the PAA and will proceed with the fifth edition of its street demonstrations to protest the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy and to demand for institutional reforms.