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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Isn’t a peaceful assembly within the law?

From Letters: theSun, Tuesday 4 December 2007, "Speak Up", page 18:

I refer to your report on Perak Raja Muda Raja Nazrin Shah’s speech (front page, Dec 30) urging Malaysians to respect law and order. However, I would like to ask this question which has troubled me for a long time, and I fervently hope that Raja Nazrin and his father Sultan Azlan read this.

Both Raja Nazrin and Sultan Azlan are highly qualified lawyers and are highly respected (Sultan Azlan was a former Lord President), so would be eminently qualified to clarify the issues I hope to raise.

The Constitution provides for free speech, free expression, free assembly and any law or act which goes against the spirit of the Constitution is invalid. I had the opportunity to ask former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas if the requirement for a police permit for any assembly of five or more is valid.

His response was "it is dicey". He cited some amendments and some clause in the amended Constitution. Asked for Tun’s opinion: "The police have the right to regulate, but not to prevent."

Now, when Malaysians participate in a peaceful assembly, are they respecting or not respecting the law?

I hope to get some answers through your now highly respected newspaper. If not from the royalty, then hopefully from the Malaysian Bar or its members or any lawyer.

Malaysians have to resort to peaceful assemblies and protests because numerous attempts to change things and right wrongs have not met with the desired action.

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