Peaceful Assembly Act 2011

After having a read of the gist of the new act, which had it’s first reading in Parliament today, I get the strangest feeling that the act was designed in haste. It is narrow in its scope and this may actually bite the government in its ass later.

However, what disturbs me the most is the nature of the act, which seems to pit the police against the organisers and the participants of any peaceful assembly as defined under the act. It also gives sweeping powers to the Home Minister in many matters.

Another thing that disturbs me is that there is no mention at all on the provision of other public service personnel such as the requirements to provide ambulances, or other emergency services during the rally.

The one thing that I find really funny is the singling out of street protests in the act. There is also a whole list of other areas where peaceful assemblies cannot be conducted at all. The act seems to place unnecessary restrictions on movement of the people.

According to Aziz Bari, this new act is essentially unconstitutional in so many ways. I cannot but agree with the expert on this.

I think that the act needs further improvement. I hope that it actually goes through the committee stage and gets amended so that people get a fair and just act. We need to remind the police that they are to serve the public, which means protecting both the general public and the assembling public.

Protests are an integral part of democracy.

Law Libraries

My photo of the Wren Library, where the Principia Mathematica is housed.Today, we had a lecture on legal methods – essentially teaching us ‘how’ to read the law e.g. case law and statutes. However, one part of the lecture really tickled me – when the lecturer mentioned that the law library is the quintessential tool of a lawyer and urged us to master its use. I laughed in my heart as I recalled an incident early last year, when I first began to scout for a suitable law school to attend.

My first port of call was to a local private college, famed as the leading provider of the University of London LL.B examinations in Malaysia. On the reception floor was the law library, right next to the reception area. It was an impressive library as it had rows and rows of brightly coloured books on its shelves. I was so looking forward to diving into the books.

Then, while speaking to their marketing representative, I was told this, and I paraphrase: “Do you see our law library at the back, with all the impressive books? Don’t worry, you won’t have to use it. All that you will need is our lecture notes. Study that and you are guaranteed to pass.”

I looked at the marketing rep in surprise and I think that he thought that I was probably amazed and delighted at being able to so easily pass the exams. However, I was actually surprised at the questionable quality of the programme conducted at such an establishment. This totally turned me off from the place.

Personally, I have no interest in becoming a lawyer and gaining a law degree is the furthest thing from my mind. I am truly interested in learning the law, and relished the idea of regularly visiting the library and reading case law. I am interested in the process, not the degree.

Thankfully, the programme at the University of Malaya set a different tone. We were drilled from day one that we had to use the library. The very first class that we had was on how to use the law library, search for statutes, case law, legal articles, etc.

For now, I still think that it’s a little too early for me to use the Tan Sri Professor Ahmad Ibrahim Law Library. However, I did pay a visit to all four floors just to see how it’s organised. There are plenty of widely spaced reading spaces unlike the cramped spaces I’m used to.

Personally, I plan to plant my ass in the library at least once a fortnight, to learn the law. I’m going to start this month and I’m looking forward to it.