Malaysia’s government under mounting pressure to reconsider law that would ban street protests
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s government faced mounting pressure Sunday to scrap plans for a law that would ban street protests, despite agreeing to ease other restrictions on rallies that activists have called repressive.
The proposed law to regulate public demonstrations has prompted lawyers, opposition leaders and rights groups to accuse Prime Minister Najib Razak’s National Front coalition of cracking down on freedom of assembly ahead of general elections widely expected next year.
Details of the Peaceful Assembly Bill announced last week included a requirement for rally organizers to inform police about their plans 30 days in advance. Street demonstrations would be forbidden, effectively limiting rallies to stadiums and public halls.
Malaysia’s de facto law minister, Nazri Aziz, said Saturday that the Cabinet has agreed to make several changes to the proposed law, such as reducing the advance notification period to 10 days.
However, there were no changes planned for the ban on street protests and a fine of up to 20,000 ringgit ($6,200) for demonstrators who break the law. Children under 15 would be barred from attending rallies, which also cannot be held near schools, hospitals, places of worship, airports or gasoline stations.
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