|Ex-Bar Council chairman: Public assembly compatible with public order|
|Monday, 30 July 2012 08:24am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
by WANI MUTHIAH
KUALA LUMPUR: It is important to have public order but it is equally important to recognise public assemblies, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights.
Public order that does not encompass these values is incomplete and not compatible with democratic principles, said former Bar Council chairman Datuk Yeo Yang Poh.
Yeo, who was speaking at a forum organised by the Bar Council titled “Public Assembly Laws The Jurisprudence and the Operation”, said that apart from having a change in the law, it was also crucial to have a change of mindset.
“The government should not look at peaceful assemblies as enemies of the state and certain segments of society must also not continue to be under the misconception that peaceful assemblies are done by troublemakers.
“They are not. They are citizens who have views on certain matters and need to express them,” added Yeo.
Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang, who also spoke at the forum, said he hoped the government would have a provision in the Peaceful Assembly Act to deal with people who hijacked peaceful assemblies and turned them into violent street demonstrations.
He likened their actions to hijacking a plane and flying it through a building.
“They are just as bad as terrorists. Because of these people, Bersih, which intended to fight for good things, got a bad name,” said Tan, a lawyer by profession.
He also said peaceful assemblies should not be allowed on the streets but held in appropriate venues, such as stadiums.
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