Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Assembly law passed with only BN votes

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — The Dewan Rakyat today passed the controversial Peaceful Assembly Bill, which bars street protests, with only six adjustments to the original proposal, and after a walkout by the opposition as well as a protest march led by lawyers.

Despite this morning’s big show from more than 1,000 Bar Council members and strident objections from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) bloc who staged a walkout from the Dewan Rakyat, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government got its way.

The Bill was swiftly passed with the six amendments revolving around the advance notice required for an assembly.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia (picture) had allowed just three opposition MPs to debate the Bill, all of whom asked for it to be withdrawn and put before a select committee.

“This is our way of rejecting the Bill until we have a select committee,”

PKR’s Subang MP R. Sivarasa told The Malaysian Insider as the opposition lawmakers left Parliament.

“This Bill does not protect national security, only the security of BN leaders,” said PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who was the last PR MP allowed to speak.

Critics have said the proposed law, which bars street protests, is more repressive than those in countries like Myanmar, which has one of the world’s poorest human rights records.

Myanmar’s military-dominated Parliament passed a law last week allowing street protests and a notice period of just five days, fewer than the 10 days required by the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

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