Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Right to Assemble

Seri Setia’s PKR assemblyperson and Selangor legislative assembly deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was in court on Friday. His charge sheet mentioned that he had failed to give 10 days’ notice under section 9 (5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act before organizing the May 05 Blackout Rally last year. It carried a fine of up to RM10,000 and Nik Nazmi could even face the prospect of being disqualified from public office. 

[The rally was held to protest the alleged electoral fraud during GE13 which regrettably, returned BN to power]. 

Nik Nazmi had appealed against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision, which had dismissed his application to strike out the charge under the PAA. 

Anyway, a three-man bench led by judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof made an unanimous decision to uphold a fundamental right under the Federal Constitution, which is the right to assemble peacefully. He had declared: “That which is fundamentally lawful cannot be criminalized”. 

Certainly, a correct decision. And therefore, the appellate court cancelled the charge against Nik Nazmi. 

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said with the judgment, other provisions in the PAA to punish offenders would appear to be similarly unconstitutional. 

Malaysians rejoice because we can now assemble without fear. A basic right of Malaysians is duly returned to us. 

Yesterday, I was at Level 6 in KPMG Tower at First Avenue, Bandar Utama to lend support to the KPMG KL Toastmasters Club. I evaluated an Arsenal supporter, Cheah Beng Tack who delivered a CC#3 speech titled “Not just a game” – he had informed/educated us that Life’s lessons can be learned from a game of football. I was also honored to listen to a Sunway University Toastmaster who did CC #4 speech – and Castrine Tan did well. She is on her way to be a good speaker. Overall, I liked the meeting and I would score it a 7 over 10. 

BTW, I am happy to note that yesterday, the Toffees blundered twice in their match against the Saints – yes, the final result was Everton 0 and Southampton 2 – and this can only be advantageous to Arsenal in holding onto fourth spot in the EPL table and securing Champions League qualification.

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