Police-state mindset

12/08/2010 Matt Siow 0 Comments

Arrested for wearing red (MI)
S. Arutchelvan

December 6, 2010

DEC 6 — At around 11.30am (December 5), I; Dr Nasir (PSM Chairperson and Kota Damansara State Assemblyman); and A. Sivarajan (PSM national Treasurer and Shah Alam Councillor) walked towards KL Sentral to take a Komuter train.

Just before we reached the Monorail station, three policemen in uniform spotted and ran after us. They blocked us and told that we cannot walk on.

When Dr Nasir asked “why?”, he was told it was because he was wearing red. All three of us were wearing red. We continued to walk on and push on while the number of police doubled and tripled and were trying to stop us from walking towards KL Sentral.

Finally near the AirAsia LCCT Bus terminal, more than 15 policemen overpowered us. We could not walk on further and they refused to allow us to walk back. The police waited for further instruction, and after around half an hour, we were told there were orders from the Brickfields OCPD for us to be arrested.

Until this point, the police merely said that they just want to check who we were. When pressed further they said we looked like we plan to participate in an illegal assembly and therefore they are preventing us from doing so. After a lot or argument and shouting, the police could not find any reason to detain us and they kept looking stupid at the busy bus terminal.

Later an officer came and was followed by another three higher ranking officers. By this time there were around 20 policemen there to arrest the three of us. Nasir, who was angered by now, challenged them to arrest all the Air Asia staff who were wearing red. We were then told that we were being arrested and would be taken to the police station for questioning.

We were taken then to PGA Building in Cheras 7th Mile in a patrol car escorted by an outrider. To our surprise, there were around 100 policemen there and the place was fully equipped to make hundreds of arrest. There were only three of us.

Later, after waiting after a long time, three officers started to document us by using a form, which, among other things, looks like a secret society form where they ask for tattoo, alias names, gang number, etc.

At this point, an officer by the name of Lim told me that they were arresting me under Section 27E of the Police Act for attempting to participate in an illegal assembly. I challenged the officer to show me the act because I know no such thing exists in the Police Act. He then just said that he was doing his duty.

We only gave minimal co-operation because we knew our rights. Most policemen there were pleasant and understood the struggle. Many also privately told us that they support what we were doing but they are just carrying out orders.

Later, to our surprise, a policeman came and said that they would drop us back. It was now past 1pm. So the three of us were put in a patrol car and we told them to take us to the National Mosque before later changing our minds and asking them to send us to the National Palace, as we learned the rally already started.

The policemen, later assisted by an outrider, escorted us to the Palace. There were around 200 policemen there. We later found out that the Selangor mentri besar’s team has already submitted the memo.

We then found ourselves in an strange situation as we were the only three red shirts with the seas of policemen around us. Here we were briefly arrested again and told to sit in a van. We protested strongly and later the three of us were taken to the KL Sentral and dropped there. We checked and was told that the crowd was dispersing. We later heard that many more arrests took place after that.

PSM was one of the parties which kept pressing the Pakatan Rakyat state government to go to the people to defend their rights. We felt people should be politically active and must participate in mass actions. The state government has a role in empowering the masses and this rally to retake the water which is being privatised is a principled struggle. We will continue to fight on.

We thank everyone for their support. It looks like the struggle of the red shirts is now spreading. It was started sometime back in Burma by the monks, then Thailand and now here.

* S. Arutchelvan is secretary general of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

And Bar Council joins the echos of condemning the aggressive move of police on protesters.

Bar Council slams cops for ‘police-state’ mindset

By Yow Hong Chieh

December 6, 2010

Riot police fire water cannons at attendees of Selangor’s water rally in Kuala Lumpur, December 5, 2010. — Picture by Jack Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — The police’s heavy-handed approach in dealing with water protesters yesterday stands at odds with the government’s vow to allow more freedom of expression, the Bar Council has said.

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan said the “heavy-handed and repressive” actions of the Royal Malaysian Police in suppressing the rally yesterday contradicted the Najib administration’s stated intention to review Section 27 of the Police Act to allow more latitude.

“The police could have permitted the gathering to take place peacefully and with minimal disruption, while preserving public order and ensuring the safety of all participants,” Ragunath said in a press release today.

“This approach would have dispelled any perception that the police behaves in a biased manner, and acts selectively to stifle only gatherings that voice dissenting views.”

Instead, he said, police engaged in “intimidatory tactics” like dispersing crowds and arresting individuals prior to the gathering, as well as the “disproportionate” use of tear gas and water cannon on protesters.

Riot police yesterday fired tear gas and water cannons on at least 1,000 people near the KL Railway Station as they marched to the Istana Negara to rally against a potential bailout of Selangor water utility companies.

They also arrested 50 peoples, including a 15-year-old boy and several university students. All were freed later that night.

The rally ended about 4pm when Pakatan Rakyat leaders appealed to the crowd at the National Mosque to disperse under the watch of phalanxes of fully-armed riot police.

The Selangor government is fighting for rights over the water industry and has promised to provide the first 20 cubic metres water for free and maintain 12 per cent increase in water tariff, compared to Syabas’s plans of a 25 per cent increase in 2012 and a 20 per cent increase in 2015.

Ragunath said the Bar Council deplored the “harsh treatment” of Malaysians who had gathered to show support for a matter of public interest and urged the police to take active measures to protect the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly.

“It is time for the police to exercise restraint, and to cease muzzling public opinion and persecuting those who speak their minds. It is time for the police to move away from a ‘police state’ mindset and to accept, and work within, the current environment,” he said

“It is time, indeed it is long past the time, for the police to recognise and uphold the clear wish of the people to assemble peaceably and to express their opinions.”

This has been again a major upset to peacefully stage a street demonstration that is one of basic human rights and speaking rights. Police has been using excessive force to people and harming the public safety after all firing tear gas canister and water cannon.

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