Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peaceful Assembly Bill

Total disregard for the voice of the rakyat

The widely condemned Peaceful Assembly Bill was passed by Barisan National members of parliament in spite of protests from opposition MPs and civil society activists. It was significant that just hours after the hundreds of lawyers representing the Malaysian Bar Council staged a peaceful walk to Parliament to protest the Bill which was being debated in the august house, the bill was passed.

If this act of our MPs is not a sign of arrogance what is it then? To add fuel to the fire of frustration, Law Minister was arrogant enough to say that the Bar Council does not represent the people. Who do they represent then? If the views of the Bar Council, a professional body that represents the legal fraternity is not taken seriously by the government especially when it concerns the formulation and tabling of a legal document in parliament, how can we expect it to listen to the views of the ordinary man on the street?

The least the government could have done is to delay passing the bill and engage the Bar Council and others who oppose the bill and then proceed with appropriate amendments followed by a more comprehensive debate of the bill before passing. If it had done so it would have been seen to be listening to the people and not ignoring them as it has done now.

As voters we must decide whether we still want to retain a government which fails to listen to the views of the people on important issues affecting them. Even when a large section of the population is against what it is doing it just couldn’t be bothered but continued to bulldoze its decisions. It abandoned the basic concept of democracy, the principle of consultation before making any decision affecting the people.

The way the Peaceful Assembly Bill was handled shows total disregard for the voice of the rakyat. The 13GE gives us an opportunity to express our views in a peaceful and democratic manner. We did not have a choice before but today we do have one and we must make a wise decision, to retain or to change.

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