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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

KJ hopes street demo ban lifted 'when time is right'

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin today revealed that he is still holding out hope that the blanket ban on street demonstrations in the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which was passed today, can be amended.

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, the Rembau MP however said he understands that the government may feel that it is not yet the right time to allow such freedoms.

“As a youth leader I feel that maybe there should be an amendment to allow street demonstration in the future. Maybe the government does not feel that the time is right (for such freedoms),” he said.

NONEHaving voted for the contentious Bill, Khairy (left) said that on the whole the Bill does provide democratic space for dissent.

The Bill, passed in the absence of opposition MPs who staged a walkout, requires no advanced notice for demonstrations at designated areas, and 10 days advance notice for protests in non-designated areas.

However, demonstrations cannot take place within a 50m radius of a list of places including schools, petrol stations, dams and places of worship.

Another BN MP often perceived as progressive, Saifuddin Abdullah, refused comment when approached.

Stepping out of the Dewan Rakyat after the Bill was passed, the Deputy Higher Education Minister said: “I cannot say anything”.

‘Pakatan MPs broke promise to voters’

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law VK Liew said that the opposition MPs had “broken their promise to their electorates” when they walked out of the debate and voting.

“Their responsibility was to seek explanations on areas which were contentious..They gambled away the people’s rights. (The Pakatan MPs) relinquished their rights in the Dewan to support the people’s right (to assemble),” he said.

NONELiew (right), who claimed to be “disappointed” with Pakatan, added that the MPs were given one week, and thus ample time, to look at the Bill and should not use the excuse of BN’s majority to not participate.

“If that is the case, then they cannot be present in any procedings then. You better ask them,” he said.

He also chided them for not being in the Dewan when the minister had explained contentious points of the Bill.

Asked why the Bill was passed without taking into account the draft Bill by the Bar Council submitted today, he said: “The lawyers are aware of Parliamentary procedures and giving notice to the house. The notice (by the Bar Council) was only given on the day of the second reading of the Bill.”

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