Asia Malaysia Malaysian government to decriminalize street protests

Malaysian government to decriminalize street protests

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Kuala Lumpur— An amendment to Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act PAA (2012) will no longer make street protests a criminal act in a bill tabled for its first reading last Monday, July 1.

Included in it is a proposal from the Pakatan Harapan government to reduce the mandatory notice period for demonstrations from 10 days to seven.

The existing law allows for public demonstrations but street protests and other types of assemblies, which are mobile are against the law.

The PAA (Amendment) Bill 2019 has removed the definition of what a “street protest” is, because of the altered portion of Section 3 of PAA 2012.

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Previously termed as an assembly which included a march for championing or protesting a cause but with the amendment, protestors may now move from one area to another.

Under the old Bill, there is a fine of RM 100,000 (approximately $3,270) for moving around in protest.

The proposed Bill would mean that street marches are no longer considered a criminal offence.

Those who organize public demonstrations only have to submit notices of the demonstration seven days in advance to police.

The latter may impose restrictions as they see fit in keeping with public security and for protecting the rights and freedom of others.

But the proposed Bill also stipulates that if an organizer is aggrieved by the restrictions from the authorities, they may appeal with the Home Minister within 24 hours instead of the current 48 hours, under Section 16(1).

Likewise, due to a proposed amendment to Section 12(2), police must now also be notified of any objections within 24 hours, which is now half of the previous 48 hours’ notice.

There is also a new section (Section 21A) stating that allows police to fine protestors an amount not greater than RM 5,000 (approximately $1,635).

According to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s Home Minister, Malaysia has taken many things into account before coming to this decision./ TISG

Read related: Mahathir: Malaysians are no longer afraid and are free to criticise

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