Malaysia

Assembly bill changes cut appeal period to 48 hours

The PM said yesterday that the amendments were to set a specific timeframe as there was confusion over the term “within 30 days.” — file picThe PM said yesterday that the amendments were to set a specific timeframe as there was confusion over the term “within 30 days.” — file picKUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill will give organisers just 48 hours instead of four days to appeal against restrictions set by police.

A notice of six changes to four clauses laid on MPs’ tables this morning said that this was a consequence of a change to “shorten the period required for the organiser to submit the notification of assembly to the Officer in Charge of the Police District.”

Clause 15 of the Bill allows police to impose restrictions on various aspects of an assembly including time and venue “for the purpose of security or public order, including the protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons.”

Clause 16 previously stated that “any organiser aggrieved by the imposition of restrictions and conditions ... may within four days ... appeal to the Minister.”

The changes to the Bill will also compel the minister in charge to respond to the appeal within 48 hours instead of six days.

The amendments to the Bill came after widespread condemnation of clause 9(1) which requires that “an organiser shall, within 30 days before the date of an assembly, notify the Officer in Charge of the Police District in which the assembly is to be held.”

The Bill will now see the period of “within 30 days” shortened to 10 days.

“The amendments to clauses 12, 14 and 16 are in consequence of the amendment to clause 9,” said the explanatory statement appended to a notice of the changes laid on lawmakers’ tables this morning in Parliament.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said yesterday that the amendments were to set a specific timeframe as there was confusion over the term “within 30 days,” which he stated could be “within five or 10 days.”

The changes to the Bill will also see police informing various stakeholders of details of a planned assembly within 24 hours instead of 48 hours of being informed by the organiser.

The stakeholders will then have two instead of five days to raise concerns with or objections to the police.

Police will also have to respond to organisers within five days instead of 12 days of being informed of a planned assembly with details of any restrictions or conditions.

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