Friday 31 August 2012

Malaysians have displayed that peaceful assembly is possible — Proham

AUG 31 — Proham congratulates the people of Malaysia who displayed their patriotism at Dataran Merdeka on the eve of independence of Malaya. They came from all walks of life in large numbers and showed that it is possible that Malaysians can occupy the public space in peace, harmony and goodwill.

Democratic freedom provides avenues for ordinary people to organise themselves in peaceful ways not only to celebrate but also express their views and grievances to the general public. This is in the spirit of the Federal Constitution which guarantees “the right to freedom of speech and expression” as well as “the right to assemble peacefully and without arms” as enshrined in Article 10.

Proham also recognises that while the police had initially indicated in writing to the coalition of 47 NGOs barring them from entering the historic Dataran Merdeka, the police did not prevent people to gather in the surrounding areas nor did they disperse the crowd. This discretion and restraint by the police is commendable. It is an example of how citizens’ action for peaceful assembly can be well managed. This is in contrast to some previous public assemblies where excessive force was used in crowd dispersion.

Proham believes that KL City Hall should be more people friendly in facilitating the historical Dataran Merdeka as a truly people’s space for democratic expression. City Hall, which manages this space, must respect the people’s human and constitutional right for free access and use of the public space.

Therefore, in keeping with democratic freedoms, city officials must be more “people friendly and pro-human rights” especially as KL aspires to rank higher in the Global Cities Index (GCI) where KL is currently occupying a low ranking (in 49 position out of 66 cities of the world)

In this context of the 55th year of Malayan independence, Proham calls on the federal government:

● To reintroduce local government elections so that the mayor of KL and the City Hall board is managed by people elected by the people of KL and accountable to them.

● To declare Dataran Merdeka as the democratic space for freedom of expression as this will be reflective of the aspirations of the people of the city.

Proham congratulates all Malaysians as we celebrate 55 years of Malayan independence and 50 years of the founding of Malaysia, that we must strive harder as a nation to live in peace, prosperity and harmony for the betterment of all the people of our county.

* Released on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham chairman), Prof Handan Adnan (Proham deputy chairman), Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (Proham member) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham secretary-general).

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