29 Nov 2011

Lawyers rally against street protest ban

9:52 pm on 29 November 2011

Hundreds of lawyers in Malaysia have staged a rally against proposed laws that would ban street protests.

The government has promised to get rid of a rule requiring people to get a police permit to hold a demonstration.

However, it wants to replace the rule with a ban on street protests and a ban on people under 21 demonstrating, the BBC reports.

The lawyers say the new proposals are more repressive than the old laws and are calling on the government to ditch the plans.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is expected to call an election early next year, has been trying to boost his popularity by overhauling the country's web of security laws.

But his government's Peaceful Assembly Act has caused outrage among critics and rights groups.

About 500 lawyers marched to Parliament on Tuesday, hours before the law was due to be debated.

They chanted "freedom to assembly" and "freedom to the people", before police stopped most of them from entering the complex.

They say the government is trying to rush through the law without proper consultation.