SUARAM strongly disagree with the narrow views espoused by MCA President YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai in regards to rallies taking place in Malaysia. SUARAM would like to inform the good minister that rallies are not illegal by default and the legalities of rallies in Malaysia are subjected to the whims of the Ministry of Home Affairs and other related government agencies.
Contrary to his well-informed views, Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides all Malaysian a right to peaceful assembly. Further the implementation of Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 itself indirectly reinforces the undeniable fact that Malaysians have the right to assemble peacefully in Malaysia. With the decision handed down by the Federal Court striking down part of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 that limits Malaysian’s right to peacefully assemble, it is of upmost certainty that Malaysians have the right to peaceful assemblies.
SUARAM understand and empathize with the minister’s concerns of possible violent confrontation instigated by mass rallies and would like to point out that all parties including the organizers of sensible rallies are equally concerned with such confrontations. With a willing and capable police force assisting and facilitating a rally, we fail to see a good reason how a peaceful assembly devoid of any racists and fascist remarks could lead to violent confrontations.
SUARAM would like to remind the good minister that the freedom to assemble and espouse our views is crucial to any democratic system. Without such freedom, we cannot in good conscience consider ourselves as a democratic and mature society. As a component party of Barisan National, we believe that the good minister does not need SUARAM to remind him that MCA itself should be no strangers to the idea of openly discussing issue with their partners in Barisan National. The call for action against all mass rallies itself runs contrary to the ideal of being able to openly discuss issues that form the basis of Barisan National.
Rather than earning Malaysia a bad name as posed by the minister, a successful peaceful assembly such as the Bersih 4.0 rally showcase Malaysia’s restraint and peace-loving nature to the world. Rather than painting Malaysia as a country that suffers from political instability, the international community would more likely feel confident in investing in Malaysia knowing that any dissatisfaction against the government would not result in a coup d’etat but would be addressed through peaceful means.
SUARAM certainly do not agree with deplorable behaviour showed by some of the protestors in the rallies that have took place in Malaysia. SUARAM believes that addressing the individuals at fault for such incidents is the proper way forward. Malaysian’s right to peacefully assemble should not be jeopardized due to the actions of a minority. The notion that we should ban and limit all form of mass rallies and public protests due to the ill-advised actions of a small minority is at best juvenile and immature; and at worst, tyrannical.
If MCA wish to minimize the risk of violent confrontations in the future rallies, we implore the good minister who is in control of MCA to clearly condemn those who were instigating and supporting such behaviours and not penalize other Malaysians who wish to express their views through peaceful assemblies.
Lastly, SUARAM hope that the good minister would take a good look at Malaysia and realize that peaceful assemblies and rallies are not the threat to the fabric of our nation. Contrary to that, SUARAM would point out that peaceful assemblies and rallies WAS the values of our founding fathers when they pushed for the independence of Malaysia. Rather than denying this heritage of ours, we should happily adopt and embrace their values and strive to develop Malaysia they dreamt of in those times.Released by, Sevan Doraisamy Executive Director SUARAM