Press Statement

31 December 2013
Lawyers for Liberty is outraged at the biased stance of the authorities especially the police when faced with the prospect of a peaceful assembly to be held at Dataran Merdeka on 31 December 2013, in protest of the alarming increase in prices of goods nationwide.
We wish to remind the police that it is not their place to protect the political interest of Barisan Nasional but to uphold the Constitution and the law, to ensure citizens are able to exercise their basic rights and protect them from harm. Each Malaysian possesses the constitutional right to peacefully assemble without arms in a public space.
The authorities, police, together with the mainstream media have concocted a false image for the protest, citing it as an attempt to ‘overthrow the government’ or ‘Protes Gulingkan Kerajaan’ using violence including bombs. This is a sinister and undemocratic tactic to alter the quality of the protest, from a peaceful assembly to a riot, thus allowing the police to harass the organisers and cause fear to the public.
We call upon the police and the mainstream media to stop disseminating false information and creating unnecessary alarm.
The argument that the organisers have failed to adhere to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 is false as the authorities would have never agreed to the protest at Dataran Merdeka.

This year, we have witnessed the blatant abuse of the PAA, exclusively targeting the opposition and rights activists. It is astonishing and hypocritical that the authorities still cite this sham piece of legislation as a method of facilitating assemblies, when in reality it is applied in a draconian and arbitrary manner to suppress opposition assemblies.
There have been numerous instances where organisers have attempted to adhere to the PAA but the authorities have made it virtually impossible to comply, thus forcing the organisers to proceed nonetheless.
We therefore call upon the authorities to work with the organisers and facilitate the peaceful assembly instead of working against it by needlessly harassing, arresting and assaulting the peaceful protestors as we have seen in the past.
Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Co-founder & Adviser
Lawyers for Liberty

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