Undi18 protest probe: Minister says cops should facilitate peaceful assembly

·2-min read
Undi18 protest probe: Minister says cops should facilitate peaceful assembly
Undi18 protest probe: Minister says cops should facilitate peaceful assembly

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin wants the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 to be amended so that police can better facilitate such gatherings.

Zuraida said this in response to a police investigation against participants who protested against the postponement of Undi18 - a policy to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

"Wholly peaceful public assemblies should not be subjected to any police investigation; they should be facilitated by the police, whilst taking into account legitimate public order concerns.

"The right of the protesters to peacefully gather and express their views must be defended, provided Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) are adhered to," she said in a statement today.

Zuraida said she understood that in investigating the protest, the police are acting in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 but there should be changes.

"That law needs to be reviewed to better facilitate peaceful public assemblies. I do not believe it is their intention to oppress anyone," she added.

The Ampang MP said she was a firm believer in the freedom of assembly as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, pointing out that she too was previously arrested and detained for exercising this right.

"I am concerned and will raise this matter to the cabinet."

The March 27 protest outside Parliament was in response to the Election Commission's (EC) decision to postpone Undi18 until September 2022.

This means that those aged 18 to 20 can't vote if the general election is called this year. The general election is expected to be called in August when the emergency is lifted.

However, Zuraida assured that everything is being done to implement Undi18.

"I am confident that the EC is doing everything possible to ensure that Undi18 becomes a reality at the earliest practicable time.

"This government is categorically and unreservedly in support of Undi18," she said.

The constitutional amendment to allow for Undi18 was unanimously passed in 2019.