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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'Gov't trying to bulldoze Assembly Bill through'

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim while debating the contentious Peaceful Assembly Bill, said that it appears that the government is trying to bulldoze it through, using its numbers in Parliament.

pkr congress 2011 271111 anwar speech 03In calling for the withdrawal of the Bill, Anwar (PKR-Permatang Pauh) (right) said that by rushing it, the government pales even in comparison to Burma's military junta.

"I urge the minister to withdraw this bill and to set up a parliamentary select committee to review it and accept other views. Even the military junta negotiates with (opposition leader) Aung San Suu Kyi.

"In Malaysia, brute force is used by the majority, without lengthy debate and without taking into account the people's sentiments.

"It will be difficult for the opposition to support this Bill unless it is brought for discussion in a parliamentary select committee," he said today at the Dewan Rakyat.

According to Anwar, recent global developments have shown that countries which stifle peaceful assembly are those governed by corrupt leaders.

"Countries with governments which are scared of peaceful assemblies are countries like Turkey when during military rule, assemblies were met with violent repression.

"When does a legitimate government become afraid of the people? When they are trying to hide corruption," he said.

Fiery exchanges

He added that the Bill does not reflect the maturity of the people and goes against the spirit of the Article 10 of the federal constitution which allows peaceful assembly.

Anwar added that it was only because of pressure from the opposition and the people that several amendments were made to the Bill, although these changes are not enough.

The contentious Bill was tabled for second reading today after the first reading last week, and is being currently debated before it can be passed to committee level.

NONEThe debate, which will resume after the lunch break, has already sparked fiery exchanges between the opposition and government bench.

In one exchange, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) (left) accused Anwar of hypocrisy for not speaking out against the Ops Lalang mass arrests while in power while Saifuddin Nasution (PKR-Machang) called for Tajuddin to be honest and admit they were both "protected" by the police when they stormed the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor II in 1996.

The government has made several amendments to the Bill since its first reading, including shortening the time in which advance notice must be given before an assembly, from 30 days to 10.

The blanket ban on street demonstrations still stands, resulting in aprotest march led by the Bar Council this morning.

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