The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is against the new proposed Bill as it is restrictive, repressive and against freedom of assembly and against freedom of religion, two sacred fundamental rights guaranteed by the federal constitution.
The proposed Bill clearly gives the police and the home minister more powers and is aimed at stifling democratic space.
MCCBCHST is particularly concerned that the new Bill now specifies places where public assembly cannot be held and they include all places of worship, hospitals, train stations, public transport terminals, kindergartens, schools and many others. This proposed provision in the Bill goes against the letter and spirit of Article 11 of the federal constitution which guarantees freedom of religion.
MCCBCHST is also against the following provision in the Peaceful Assemblv Bill 2011, whose title appears to mislead people into not knowing the true nature of amendments:
While governments all over the world are opening up democratic space, we appear to be back tracking. Even, Burma which has the military junta governing the country, has now passed a "protest bill" which allows citizens to protest peacefully.
The Burma Bill only requires demonstrators to inform authorities five days in advance and advises them to avoid government buildings, hospitals and embassies (The Sun, Nov 25). Our bill is a far cry from this Burma Bill.
We urge the government to listen to the many objections legitimately voiced and earnestly hope that the Bill would not be rushed through our Dewan Negara.
Finally, the MCCBCHST calls on all leaders of all faiths to dedicate every Friday, from December 2 to pray in their respective places of worship that the leaders of our nation have it in their hearts and minds to find the understanding, truth, respect, compassion and most of all, the wisdom, to withdraw the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 and engage all stakeholders.