KUALA LUMPUR: Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has allayed fears that decriminalising street demonstrations will lead to violent protests.
“If organisers say this is a peaceful street protest, then that is what it should be,“ he told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby today.
“You may ask what happens when they turn rowdy and violent.
“Other laws will come in then, like the Penal Code, to ensure there’s always peace,“ he added.
Muhyiddin said with the amendment, protesters should practise greater responsibility to ensure any demonstration they take part in is peaceful.
“They can now legally take part in street protests, but they have to follow the rules and ensure it is peaceful and not to the extent that it creates security issues,“ he said.
Muhyiddin was asked to comment on whether there were concerns that the proposed amendment to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA), to remove protest marches as a criminal offence, could lead to violence similar to that in Hong Kong.
Under the current act, public demonstrations are allowed on condition they are contained in one location, with street protests and other forms of moving assemblies prohibited.
Muhyiddin said that the proposed amendment, which went through a long consultation process with the relevant stake holders, was in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution to allow for freedom of expression and association.
“It shows that this government is committed to ensure that what is provided in the constitution is translated to the public,“ he said, adding that it also proved the government’s intention to reforming the law.
The first reading of the proposed amendment was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman today. The amendment also proposes to reduce the mandatory notice period to authorities from 10 days to seven.