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Monday, November 28, 2011

‘Ban’ on Dataran Merdeka mocks at ‘independence’

An autonomous grassroots initiative wants the Peaceful Assembly Bill withdrawn.

PETALING JAYA: A group calling itself the KL People’s Assembly has taken the authorities to task for barring groups from using Dataran Merdeka to “meet and discuss the future” of the country.

Group founder and spokesperson Fahmi Reza said Dataran Merdeka has been closed for the past several weeks to all except for “other people not participating in our discussions”.

“We question why we are not allowed to use Dataran Merdeka to have a discussion on the future of our country while other people not participating in our discussions are allowed to gather around Dataran Merdeka,” said Fahmi.

The group, which is better known as Occupy Dataran, also criticised the government’s decision- making process which did not allow people’s participation.

“We, the KL People’s Assembly, hold that the current practice of decision-making on policies that affect all peoples… is undemocratic as there is no room for people to participate in the decision-making process.

“We strongly suggest that a participatory, consensus-driven decision-making process be adopted for all future laws and policies that affect the people of Malaysia.”

The group also called for the Peaceful Assembly Bill to be withdrawn.

Bill to be tabled tomorrow

The Bill was tabled on Tuesday and promptly received brickbats from the opposition and civil society groups.

Two protest assemblies were held on Saturday against the Bill.

Fahmi questioned the meaning of “independence” in opposing the Bill and the ruling against groups congregating in Dataran Merdeka.

“Is this the true meaning of ‘Merdeka’ in Dataran Merdeka?

“Is independence of any person at the discretion of the authorities?” asked Fahmi in a statement today.

Merdeka is the Malay word for independence.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak confirmed today that amendments would be done before the tabling of the Bill slated for tomorrow.

Among others, Najib said that time period to inform the police has been reduced from 30 to 10 days.

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