KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today said that the government’s proposal to remove street protests as a criminal offence via an amendment to the Peaceful Assembly Act PAA (2012) will not affect security in the country as there are other existing laws.
The Home Minister was commenting on concerns that the proposal may lead to uncontrolled violence such as the protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill.
He, however, said there would be much reliance on the public to ensure that rallies held would be peaceful.
“If they say it would be a peaceful street protest, then that is what it should be in the spirit of the law.
“But what happens when it turns out to be rowdy, rough and a lot of other things, then other laws would have to come in, such as the Penal Code or other provision of the laws to ensure that there will be always peace,” he told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby today.
“So we will depend much on the people and organisers of the peaceful demonstration... we are giving them the freedom which I think Malaysians should laud this move which would make things easier for them. But while we want to make that easier, it will still be guided by other laws.”
Muhyiddin said the move, which would be carried out via an amendment to the Peaceful Assembly Act PAA (2012), was part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s efforts to uphold what has been provided in the Federal Constitution in terms of freedom of association and expression.
The Pagoh MP said two committees were formed to look into the amendments of several laws that are part of the PH law reforms.
“We have taken into account many things and this isn’t done just by the ministry.
“There is a lot of process... there was consultation with many bodies including the Bar Council, the Lawyers for Liberty, and other civil liberties. We have roped in many people before we made the decision,” he said.
In the amendment Bill tabled for the first reading today, the government also proposed reducing the mandatory notice period to authorities from 10 days to seven.
The PAA allows public demonstrations but technically prohibits street protests and other forms of moving assemblies.