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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Don’t fear cops, rally goers told

The police will be the ones breaking the law if they take action, says Lawyers for Liberty.
n surendran fmt interview 02PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today assured organisers of the May 1 rally and intending participants that they need not fear police action.
Citing a recent Court of Appeal decision, LFL founder N Surendran said the public demonstration against the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be legal even without a police permit.
“If the police take action, they are going against the Court of Appeal’s judgment, and they will be the ones breaking the law,” he told FMT.
“I encourage Malaysians to exercise their right to freedom of assembly. Ignore the illegal warnings and assemble peacefully.”
He urged the police not to “behave like gangsters”.
The rally, organised by 95 civic groups, will be held in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka.
The Court of Appeal last Friday struck down Section 9 (5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PPA), which provides for a maximum fine of RM10,000 if a 10-day notice is not given to the police before a peaceful assembly is held.
The court ruled that it was unconstitutional and went against the right to freedom of assembly as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
A three-man bench led by Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof acquitted Selangor Deputy Speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who had been charged over last year’s Black 505 rally.
“The 10-day notice is still required, but no criminal penalty should be enforced,” Mohamad Ariff said.
Bar Council president Christopher Leong told FMT that the objective of Section 9 was for the police to have prior notice of a peaceful assembly.
“This is so that the police can facilitate in terms of traffic and security,” he said. “The police are duty-bound to take measures to facilitate a peaceful assembly.
“The assembly will be lawful so long as it is a peaceful assembly. As such, organisers should not be punished.”
Commenting on pending PAA cases, Leong said it was wrong for the prosecution to go ahead in light of the Court of Appeal’s decision.

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