The conviction of KEADILAN Johor Executive Secretary, R. Yuneswaran under the Peaceful Assembly Act is a disgrace to the country’s attempt to protect human rights. It is a blatant disregard of the fundamental right to peaceful assembly guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
A fine of RM6,000 or jail of 3 months is a harsh punishment for merely failing to give authorities a 10 day notice. This notice period is unreasonable as the length of time is too long as supported by the Bar Council. The authorities do not need 10 days to take steps to maintain traffic or plan any method of crowd control since that is the objective of serving the notice.
Apart from that, various pro-government rallies and demonstrations have been organised by other activists and demonstrators without complying with the 10 day notice period but no actions were taken by the authorities nor were the organisers charged. However, many opposition leaders and Pakatan activists including myself are now being charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act for infringing this very provision. This is clearly selective prosecution by the authorities.
This fits perfectly with the pattern of the government to take back democratic space with the newly introduced amendments to the Prevention of Crimes Act bringing back detention for up to 2 years without charges or trial.
Clearly, PM Najib Razak’s claim of attempting national reconciliation is a mere sham. He is continuing more of the same old politics of UMNO-BN that has been rejected by majority of Malaysians in the 13th General Election.