Suhakam: Allow permit-free rallies

The Star – Wednesday December 12, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Suhakam expressed regret the Government had ignored its repeated calls to repeal the law requiring permits for public assemblies and processions.

“In London, you can hold peaceful assemblies and the police are around to prevent public disorder.
“But here, a group needs a permit even to present a memorandum,” its chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman said yesterday.
“The possibility of public disorder should be based on evidence, not speculation or imagination,” he said, when asked whether a group submitting a memorandum to Parliament needed a permit.
On whether it was different to a protest party, he said: “Unfortunately, a gathering of three is an assembly under Section 27 of the Police Act. The intention is irrelevant.”
“Suhakam wants Section 27 repealed because it goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and appears to be inconsistent with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.”
Asked whether anyone could apply for it to be declared unconstitutional, he said a person could if he could show he was affected by the application of Section 27.
On Tun Musa Hitam’s lament in an interview on Sunday that Suhakam did not want to address certain “sensitive things”, Abu Talib said his predecessor had not specified what they were.
Suhakam secretary Ahmad Yusuf Ngah said in a statement: “Very likely, Tun Musa is unaware of the many recommendations made by Suhakam to improve the level of human rights in Malaysia, since his tenure ended in 2002.”
The statement was issued after Suhakam met in Kuching in conjunction with World Human Rights Day on Monday.