Taking Part In Street Protests Or Rallies Is No Longer A Crime In Malaysia

Bill to decriminalise street protests was passed by the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Cover image via Din Merican: the Malaysian DJ Blogger & REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Street protests and rallies are now legal in Malaysia

On Thursday, 4 July, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Peaceful Assembly Act (Amendment) 2019 Bill after six hours of debating over it, reported NST Online.

The Bill was tabled by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. It decriminalises street protests that were originally an offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

File photo of anti-government protesters occupying a street during a rally in KL.

Image via Vincent Thian/AP

The notification period to the authorities have also been reduced

According to NST Online's report, the amendment includes shortening the time needed to notify the police on the organisation of assemblies from 10 to five days.

A provision was added for a compoundable offence under Section 9 (notification of peaceful assembly) and Section 15 (limitations and regulations for peaceful assemblies).

A fine of not more than RM5,000 would be issued to those who fail to comply with the notice requirement or break the conditions set by the police for the rally.

Additionally, this fine will not be classified as a crime and parliamentarians found to have violated the sections would not lose their seats or eligibility to contest in elections.

Previously, while tabling the bill at the Dewan Rakyat, Muhyiddin said that the "amendment is needed to give room to the people, their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly"

Meanwhile, the Home Minister also allayed fears that decriminalising street demonstrations will lead to violent protests in the country similar to that in Hong Kong.

"If organisers say this is a peaceful street protest, then that is what it should be," he was reported as saying by theSundaily earlier.

"You may ask what happens when they turn rowdy and violent. Other laws will come in then, like the Penal Code, to ensure there's always peace," he added.

Muhyiddin said the Government is giving the protesters the freedom to practice responsibility to ensure any demonstration they take part in is peaceful.

"They can now legally take part in street protests, but they have to follow the rules and ensure it is peaceful and not to the extent that it creates security issues.

"So we will depend on the people and organisers. We are giving them the freedom and I think Malaysians should laud this move," he added.

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