FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY SHOULD NOT BE RESTRICTED IN MALAYSIA


Freedom is basically the right of a human over his own life. To act, think, decide, opine on what he believes is true for him. While right is being defined as the freedom to exercise any power conferred by law (Elizabeth A. Martin, 2002). In the other hand, assembly is being defined as an intentional and temporary presence of a number of individuals in a public place that is not a building or structure for a common expressive purpose (Nina Belyaeva, David Goldberger, Neil Jarman, Muatar S. Khaidarova, Serghei Ostaf, Vardan Poghosyan, Andrzej RzepliƄski, Alexander Vashkevich, Yevgeniy A. Zhovtis, Michael Hamilton, 2007).

Therefore, freedom of assembly is a right conferred by law to assemble in a public places for a common purpose peaceably. This right is protected by the right for freedom of association which is a qualified right where the public interest can be used to justify interference with it providing that this is prescribed by law, designed for a legitimate purpose and proportionate (Elizabeth A. Martin, 2002).

In Malaysia, the right for freedom of assembly is conferred by Article 10 (1) (b) of the Federal Constitution (2005) that stated,

“Subject to Clause (2), (3) and (4), all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms” (p. 26).

On the other hand, restrictions are also being imposed over the right. Article 10 (2) (b) of the Federal Constitution (2005) provided that,

“on the right conferred by paragraph (b) of clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or public order” (p.27).

The law only protects the right for freedom of a peaceful assembly. While the restriction imposed is to secure the public interest. However, in Malaysia, the restriction imposed by the legislature by the passing of laws such as Sedition Act, Police Act, Internal Security Act and the Penal Code to some extent has been executed in an abusive manner. Rather than protecting the rights conferred by Federal Constitution, the restriction laws passed has shut the rights dead.

The recent event of BAR Council march in Putrajaya, BERSIH peaceful rally in Kuala Lumpur and HINDRAF road demonstration in front of British Embassy had raised the issue of the legitimacy of freedom of assembly in Malaysia. Government has used the restriction laws abusively so as to diminish the right for freedom of assembly.

Therefore, it is strongly believed that freedom of assembly should not be restricted in Malaysia in order to preserve and protect the human fundamental rights and to enhance and develop political maturity in the society.
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