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It is as clear as day that the ‘Search for Missing Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’ is a public assembly consisting of activists seeking long overdue justice for Teoh Beng Hock’s death. Police investigations against the assembly under Section 4A of the Election Offences Act is thus a blatant act of intimidation that deprives the people of their fundamental right to approach and speak to policymakers about their issues. These tactics are not new, especially against activists peacefully assembling outside Parliament for the same purpose – the #LawanLapar assembly was a recent one last year, with Section 186 of the Penal Code used as a basis for investigations.  

The police’s alleged threat to arrest activists during the assembly, followed by questions and investigations under Section 504 of the Penal Code are just as inexcusable, being attempts to delegitimise pursuit of justice as ‘civil disobedience’ that is justifiably repressed by ‘rule of law’.

It is both ironic and noteworthy that these police investigations are completely antithetical to the commitment that Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim made just hours before on the same day to table the proposal that every leader, including himself, be responsible for ‘looking after a village to have first-hand knowledge of problems’ faced by locals. To be keen on calling ‘all community representatives in the village’ to hear their issues but not respond to multiple active attempts by a civil society organisation over 17 months on a case of unjust death in custody only conveys double standards that cast doubt on how serious the government in upholding the justice, transparency and accountability agenda.  

The police must immediately discontinue the probe against Ng Yap Hwa and Teoh Lee Lan.  It is also imperative that the Prime Minister no longer delay meeting Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy on their demands and make concrete commitments to hold the relevant perpetrators accountable.

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