Malaysian Marchers Protest Bill Banning Street Rallies

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of Malaysians took to the streets Tuesday to protest a proposed ban on street rallies.

The demonstrators marched to the parliament building in Kuala Lumpur ahead of a vote on a bill called the Peaceful Assembly Act, saying the measure is an assault on free speech.

The bill would allow public gatherings in places such as stadiums, but ban public marches without prior approval. Organizers would be required to give officials 10-days notice prior to rallies.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition introduced the bill last week. Lawyers say the bill was hastily introduced and would provide police with too much power. Police would determine whether the time, date and location of proposed demonstrations are acceptable.

Amnesty International has called the Peaceful Assembly Act “a legislative attack on Malaysians' right to peaceful protest.”