Anwar likens assembly area restrictions to Mubarak’s military rule

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today the government was following in the footsteps of toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak by barring protests from taking place on the streets and at least 20 other kinds of venues.

“The prohibition of places like kindergartens follows Hosni Mubarak’s military rule,” the opposition leader said when debating the Bill that has been criticised by several quarters as being more repressive than existing regulations.

Mubarak’s 30-year presidency came to an end in February this year after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered to demand his exit.

The PKR de facto leader was replying to his colleague and Kuala Kedah MP Ahmad Kassim who asked “what is the meaning” of the long list of prohibited areas.

The Bill prohibits assemblies from being held at dams, reservoirs, water catchment areas, water treatment plants, electricity generating stations, petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, railways, land public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, wharves, piers, bridges, marinas, places of worship and kindergartens and schools.

Anwar questioned how the government intended to “become the best democracy in the world” when it was “making it more difficult to gather than in Zimbabwe and Myanmar.”

He was referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement just days after his September 15 pledge of democratic reforms, including repealing the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA), that the move was to make Malaysia the world’s best democracy.

But critics have said that the proposed law is more repressive than those in countries like Myanmar, which has one of the world’s poorest human rights records.