KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government plans to amend a law that would remove street protests as a criminal offence, with Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin saying there are other laws in place that would protect the country's security.
He was speaking to reporters who asked about a government proposal to amend the Peaceful Assembly Act PAA (2012), as quoted by Malay Mail online news, and whether this could lead to something similar to Hong Kong where a few hundred protesters stormed into its legislative complex.
"If they say it would be a peaceful street protest, then that is what it should be in the spirit of the law," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Monday (July 1).
"But what happens when it turns out to be rowdy, rough and a lot of other things, then other laws would have to come in, such as the Penal Code or other provision of the laws to ensure that there will be always peace."
Tan Sri Muhyiddin said the amendment is part of the Pakatan Harapan government's effort to uphold what is provided in the Federal Constitution in terms of freedom of association and expression.
"So we will depend much on the people and organisers of the peaceful demonstration... we are giving them the freedom which I think Malaysians should laud this move which would make things easier for them. But while we want to make that easier, it will still be guided by other laws," he said.
An amendment Bill was tabled in parliament for the first reading on Monday, Malay Mail reported. The government has also proposed reducing the mandatory notice period informing the authorities of an impending street protest be reduced from 10 days to seven.
He said many parties were consulted before the Bill was tabled, including the Bar Council, Lawyers for Liberty, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and National Human Rights Society.