Halt Prosecution against Human Rights Defenders and Political Actors under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012

Memorandum to Tan Sri Idrus bin Harun Attorney General of Malaysia

Halt Prosecution against Human Rights Defenders and Political Actors under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012

Date: 23 September 2022

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, condemn the prosecutions under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) and demand the withdrawal of the charges against student activists and political activists by the Attorney General.

Article 10 of the Federal Constitution provides for the right to peaceful assemblies. Despite the amendments introduced to the PAA, the act still unduly and unjustly suppresses the public’s rights to peaceful assembly. All persons, regardless of their political affiliation and belief, must be afforded these fundamental rights and be allowed to exercise their rights freely without undue conditions in line with the Federal Constitution.

Section 9(5) is also incompatible with international human rights law and standards as it amounts to an effective prohibition against urgent and spontaneous assemblies. As part of Malaysia’s pledge to join the UN Human Rights Council, the government expressed Malaysia’s unequivocal commitment to advancing human rights for all, and this should be reflected in the government’s commitment for domestic legislation to be in place and interpreted to enable citizens to exercise rights and freedoms responsibly and not to suppress them.

Contrary to this commitment, the government has used this law to intimidate protest organisers and restrict the use of public spaces and curtail the freedom of assembly. This undermines the State’s duty to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom of assembly and exposes the Malaysian government’s deep intolerance for protests and dissidence.
The right to peaceful assembly is not merely a theoretical right accorded to us. As we have come to learn over the past months, exercising our rights under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution was critical in exposing and highlighting the corruption and abuse of power by those in government. Without it, the corruption and abuse would have continued unchecked and unaddressed.

Over the years, the PAA has been abused to investigate and harass human rights defenders and political opponents. However, it should be noted that there were no criminal prosecutions for peaceful assemblies between 2017 to 2022. The period of respite has come to an end with renewed efforts to restrict the right to peaceful assemblies with the prosecution of at least four persons under PAA. The four includes:
● Mohd Hasbie Muda
● Muhammad Sabda Suluh Lestari
● Muhammad Aliff Naif Mohd Fizam
● Amir Abdul Hadi

The charge laid against Hasbie Muda was pertaining to a protest against rising prices at Kampung Baru on 1 July. Sabda was charged for his involvement in a protest outside of Sogo Shopping Complex on 9 July, while Aliff Naif was a speaker at the Turun protest on 23 July outside of Sogo Complex. Lastly, Amir Hadi was the organiser for the protest outside of Sogo Complex on 14 August. All four of them were charged under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for failing to notify the police five days before holding an assembly. Three of them were charged on 18 August in the magistrate court, while Amir was charged on 26 August.

The Royal Malaysian Police also continues to falsely demand that activists and organisers of any peaceful assemblies obtain the necessary ‘approval’ or ‘permit’ and construe the failure to obtain their tacit approval as a violation of PAA. There are no sections within the PAA that grant police such powers, and the legitimacy of Section 9(5) continues to be in question with divergent decisions by the Court of Appeal.

Notification regimes for protests should only be voluntary. The purpose of any notification regime should be to allow the government and police to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate protests. Further, organisers should only be expected to submit a notice of intent to organise a protest, never a request for permission to hold a protest.

In addition to prosecution under Section 9(5) of PAA, other individuals have also been subjected to prosecution under other offences for exercising the right to peaceful assembly under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. This includes Nalina Nair and Sujatra Jayanah under Section 90 of the Police Act (an offence for rioting & disorderly behaviour) on 26 August 2021; Muhammad Sheith and Steven Tiw under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures in Local Areas of Infection) on 29 July 2022for the #KerajaanGagal protests; Lim Zheng Han under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act on 13 June 2022 for a demonstration against former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

To this end, we, the undersigned civil society organisation, demand the Attorney General withdraw all prosecutions under the PAA and other prosecutions detrimental to the right to peaceful assembly; and for the Attorney General to publicly recognise and acknowledge Malaysians’ rights to peaceful assembly under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Signed and endorsed by,


  1. Liga Rakyat Demokratik (LRD)
  2. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  3. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  4. Pertubuhan Gelombang Muda Malaysia
  5. Engage Network
  6. Undi18
  7. Student Progressive Front UUM
  8. Women’s March Malaysia
  9. Klima
  10. Pacos Trust
  11. University Malaya Student’s Union
  12. BERSIH
  13. Malaysia Youths and Students Evolution
  14. North South Initiative
  15. Demokrat UKM
  16. KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee
  17. Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)
  18. KLSCAH Youth
  19. Tunku Abdul Rahman University College Association of New Youth (TARANY)
  20. Institute for Leadership and Development Studies
  21. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
  22. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED)
  23. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  24. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Dan Pembangunan Masyarakat Sabah
  25. Demokrat Universiti Malaya
  26. Gerakan Guaman Rakyat
  27. MAJU
  28. Waroeng Baru
  29. IMAN Research
  30. UMANY
  31. Jurnal SVARA
  33. LLG Cultural Development Centre
  34. ALIRAN
  35. Suara Semua
  36. The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  37. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  38. Borneo Komrad
  39. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  40. Justice for Sisters
  41. Family Frontiers
  42. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)
  43. Jurnal SVARA


  1. Wong Yan Ke
  2. Preevena Devi Jayabalan
  3. Nafidz Azizi
  4. Zhi Wei
  5. Beverly Joeman
  6. Nur Afiqah binti M. Zulkifli
  7. Marques Jeevan Menon
  8. Ahmad Salami
  9. Joe
  10. Rachel Lam
  11. Yap Swee Seng
  12. Mohamed Hyypia bin Rosmaini
  13. Tham Jia Vern
  14. Norman Goh
  15. Paul Sigar
  16. Hwa Hui-En
  17. Wong Yew Lee
  18. Chu Min Wei
  19. Siah Kwong Liang
  20. Abdul Majid Bin Abd Aziz
  21. Mandeep Singh
  22. Muhammad Hisyamuddin bin Shahrin
  23. Muhammad Dzul Aiman Bin Zulkefly
  24. Hoe Sue Lu
  25. Razeef Rakimin
  26. Mohd Shafiq Iqram Abdullah
  27. Angaindrankumar Gnanasagaran
  28. Tsang Zhi Hao
  29. Voice of Youtharian
  30. Amnesty International Malaysia

Link: Malay Mail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *