PUTRAJAYA, Sept 23 — Led by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Liga Rakyat Demokratik (LRD) 45 non-governmental organisations today submitted a memorandum to the Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun, condemning the decision to charge several activists and political party members under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 last month.
The group gathered in front of the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) office here and called for all the charges to be withdrawn immediately.
LRD’s Muhammad Alshatri said Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides for the right to assemble peacefully and despite the amendments introduced to the PAA, the act still unjustifiably and unfairly suppresses people's right to peaceful assembly.
"All people, regardless of political affiliation and belief should be granted this right and be allowed to exercise their rights freely without undue conditions in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
"Section 9(5) (of PAA) is also inconsistent with human rights laws and international standards as it is a prohibition against immediate and spontaneous assembly.
"As one of Malaysia's pledges to join the UN Human Rights Council, the government expressed Malaysia's unwavering commitment to provide human rights to all, and this should be reflected in the government's approach to domestic legislation where these laws are enacted and interpreted to allow the people to exercise their rights and freedoms accordingly and not the other way around,” he told Malay Mail today.
Meanwhile, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy urged the authorities not to waste public funds by investigating and charging those involved in peaceful gatherings.
He said the AG should engage with stakeholders to hear them out on issues on the ground as there are many other serious issues that need to be addressed such as crime and corruption.
"They failed to hold meetings with stakeholders.
"Doesn't the government under Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Ismail Sabri want to see the country move towards more reform? We want to see feedback on this issue,” he said.
The memorandum was received by AGC’s public relation officer Wasri Ahmad Sujani at 10.45am in front of the AGC.
Last month, four individuals were charged under PAA — Amanah Youth chief Mohd Hasbie Muda, Malaysia United Democratic Alliance Secretary-General Amir Abdul Hadi, PKR Batu Youth Chief Muhammad Sabda Suluh Lestari and student activist Muhammad Aliff Naif Mohd Fizam
The charges against Hasbie are related to protests against price increases in Kampung Baru on July 1. Sabda was charged for his involvement in the protest outside Sogo Shopping Complex on July 9, while Aliff Naif was a speaker at the Turun protest on July 23 outside Sogo Complex. Finally, Amir was charged as the organiser of the protest outside the Sogo Complex on Aug 14.
The four of them were charged under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for failing to notify the police five days before holding the assembly. Three of them were charged on Aug 18 in the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court, while Amir was charged on Aug 26.