Candlelight vigil for unity and harmony
Lighting up for unity, peace and harmony.
There should be a new era of peace, security and trust between the police and the people after this historic 13th general election.
Suaram expects the Malaysian police to conduct itself in the most professional manner following the outcome of the general election.
The Malaysian police has been trained and tested since the days of the Emergency which started in 1948. They have fought insurgents in the jungle as well as in the urban areas for more than thirty years.
The methods used by the Malaysian police have often been found to be excessive but they have proven that they can nip any altercation very swiftly when they want to.
This was exhibited during the Kesas Highway demonstration in 2000 when the police could break up a 100,000 people demonstration in minutes, albeit using brutal means.
Having said that, the Malaysian police have been found to be a tad tardy at various points in our history.
During the May 13 “riots” after the general election in 1969, the pogrom continued until July 1969 when the security forces only then truly demonstrated their professionalism.
Similarly, when ethnic Indians were the victims of racial violence at Kampung Medan in 2001, the thugs were allowed to go on the rampage from March 8 to 13 when it should have been nipped in the bud as soon as it happened since Kampung Medan is such a small enclave in Petaling Jaya.
The Malaysian Special Branch prides itself with being one of the best in this part of the world but at times, such as the violent disruption of the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor on Nov 9, 1996, the police arrived one whole hour late, long after the mob had done its dirty work.
We hope that such lapses in the professionalism of the Malaysian police will not occur again if there should be a need to keep order folloiwing the results of the 13th general election.
We look forward to a new era of peace, security and trust between the police and the people after this historic 13th general election.
Kua Kia Soong is the advisor to human rights watchdog Suaram
Cops haul up electoral reform activist for questioning
Electoral reform activist PY Wong was questioned by police today for an alleged offence related to his group Tindak Malaysia’s activities to train party workers to be polling, counting and barong agents (Pacaba) during the general election.
The NGO founder was questioned for over two hours at federal police HQ Bukit Aman from 9am.
He is being probed under Section 124(c) of the Penal Code for involvement in activities that disrupt parliamentary democracy or preparations for such.
He was accompanied by lawyers Farhana Halim and New Sin Yew.
It was reported in the media today that the probe is related to Tindak Malaysia’s workshops educating the voters on how to ensure secrecy of their ballot.
According to the NGO, voters at polling stations should demand a random ballot slip instead of the serialised one normally handed to them by the officer in charge.
Wong was quoted as expressing surprise that educating voters on their legal rights was an offence.
When met after Wong’s questioning was over at 11.30am, New said that he found police investigations into his client’s Pacaba training as “baffling”.
“It is as if (they are) saying that voter education is detrimental to parliamentary democracy.”
He believes that it fits a pattern of harassment by authorities as some of the questions asked to his client are similar to the ones that human rights NGO Suaram had been subjected to – including several questions into their funding.
He related that the investigations on Wong under Section 124 was based on a police report lodged in Changkat Jering on April 3, although they were not given details on who had lodged it, nor given any specifics on the matter.
Wong himself expressed disappointment with the way that the authorities are dealing with Tindak Malaysia.
‘Disagree through discussions’
He said that they have engaged with the EC and the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms about the Pacaba trainings.
He added that if they wanted to disagree with him, they could have done so through discussions and not by harassing Tindak Malaysia in this way.
A small group of supporters from Suaram and Tindak Malaysia had also turned up to show their support of Wong, mounting an impromptu protest outside Bukit Aman.
The police were watchful during the protest, but did not interfere.
Meanwhile, Suaram has condemned the investigations being done by the police, and are questioning the government’s motive in doing so.
They reminded that the police had asserted last week that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) would not be abused in the 13th general election.
The human rights group also quoted New as saying that more individuals have apparently been probed in relation to the coming election, although their identities cannot be verified.
“This is seen as police intimidation towards electoral reform activists,” said the NGO in a statement today.
Suaram added that using Sosma against activists did not make sense, especially considering that PY Wong is just an activist who organises activities to educate the public on the upcoming general election.
“If the police fail to explain the motive behind their probe, then it confirms the public’s fears that Sosma will be abused during the general election,” it said.
According to Suaram, Section 124(c) has been amended to be read in conjunction with Sosma. Therefore, this changes the definition in the Penal Code to say that anyone who carries out activities that threaten parliamentary democracy or makes any preparations to such an end, is liable for punishment.
Meanwhile at a separate press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has decried Wong’s questioning as a plot to undermine civil society groups – such as Tindak Malaysia and Bersih – ahead of the upcoming election.
‘Wong’s probe is a plot’
“The whole basis (of Wong’s questioning) is on the issue of randomising (ballot papers). Why did I say it is a plot? It all started with (former DAP national vice-chairperson) Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahimraising it, TV3 giving it extensive coverage, and everyone going on and on about how this is going to cause chaos at the elections.
“This is a build-up, in my view, for a final attack on Tindak Malaysia and Bersih,” she said.
Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah (left in photo) added that an email has also been fraudulently circulated in her name, advocating for the randomisation of ballots, and that she will be lodging a police report over the matter.
Ambiga clarified that Bersih had never urged voters to randomise their votes.
Previously, she said, Tindak Malaysia had trained voters to ask clerks at polling centres to tear off a handful of ballots and allow the voters to pick one, hence ensuring that the ballot paper’s serial number could not be traced to individual voters.
However, Bersih raised objections against this as it would leave “loose ballots hanging around”, Tindak Malaysia has agreed to stop providing training on randomisation since October last year.
“Yet they are using this (issue) and they are bluffing. In this email (in Maria Chin’s name), you can see how far this plot goes.
“They are bluffing, they are making up stories, they are creating a situation of confusion so that action can be taken against Bersih as well as Tindak Malaysia,” she stressed.
Ambiga and Bersih steering committee member Andrew Khoo (right), both lawyers, also pointed out that it is not illegal to advocate for randomisation.
“The charge under Section 124(c) is for undermining parliamentary democracy by violent or unconstitutional means. Nobody is talking about violence or suggesting anything about violence.
“Even if we were to agree to randomisation – and I want to make it clear that we are not – is that unconstitutional? The answer is, ‘No’,” Khoo said.
Youth detained by police rushed to hospital next day
A 24 year-old youth sustained serious head injuries while he was held in custody at the Kulim district police headquarters on the night of March 29, his brother claimed today.
Badaruddin Mohd Tajuddin (left) said Kulim police failed to ensure the safety of his brother – Muhammad Kusyairi – when he was in their custody that night, before he was rushed to the hospital the next day.
Kusyairi was detained in Taman Selasih, Kulim, about 9.30pm on March 29 for suspected motorcycle theft and is currently being treated at the Penang Hospital.
According to the Kedah police, Kusyairi was beaten up by members of the public when caught trying to steal a motorcycle.
“Is is unfortunate that after he was arrested by police and was taken into their custody, the next day (March 30), he was rushed to the Penang Hospital from Kulim,” Badaruddin said after lodging a police report at the Northeast District police headquarters on Jalan Pattani in Penang.
“He sustained injuries on his head and is now in a state of coma.
“As his family, we want to know how Kusyairi suffered such grave injuries to his head and become unconscious only after he was put in the police lock-up,” he said.
Badaruddin urged the police to investigate the matter thoroughly, adding that the family demands to know his brother’s condition during the arrest and when he was in police custody.
Suaram coordinator Sean Ho, who was present, said it is the responsibility of the police to protect suspects they take into custody.
“If Kusyairi was beaten up as claimed, the police should have sent him to the hospital immediately,” Ho said.
Kusyairi’s family plans to hold another press conference on Thursday, at which they intend to release more information on the matter, upon confirming certain details.
Police deny allegations
Kedah police have strongly denied allegations that its officers had beaten Kusyairi while he was in custody.
State deputy police chief Abdul Ghafar Rajab said Kusyairi was in a “weak condition” and the force was not able to interrogate or question him.
He confirmed that the suspect – from Kupang, Kedah – was nabbed for alleged theft of a motorcycle “belonging to a 23 year old”.
The owner was shocked to see the suspect on his motorcycle and approached him with 30 others members of the public,” Bernamaquoted Abdul Ghafar as saying.
“They managed to nab him and then hit him until two policemen came to stop the scuffle.”
Abdul Ghafar said that since Kusyairi was very weak, he was sent to the Kulim Hospital about 11.20pm for treatment.
Since Kusyairi was in critical condition, he had to be rushed to the Penang Hospital where he is in a coma.
“The suspect will be charged under Section 379A Penal Code with motorcycle theft and investigation papers are being prepared to probe those who allegedly beat him up, under Section 324 for causing injuries to the suspect,” he said.
He reminded the public that it is not wrong to help nab a suspect but that they must not go beyond the limit, as it could lead to their own arrest.
However, Abdul Ghafar said none of those involved have been arrested or asked to give a statement.
By Susan Loone
The magistrate’s court in Penang has fixed March 8 to decide on preliminary issues relating to the inquest into the death-in-custody of Cheah Chin Lee.
Magistrate Siti Salwa Ja’afar set the date this morning, according to M Visvanathan (standing on the left), who is representing Cheah’s family.
Visvanathan also filed an application under Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code for a copy of all documents that the police have in hand.
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