The police can’t let go

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Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj wants to know why police are intent on recording further statements from nine of the PSM 30, who were arrested on 25 June 2011, despite multiple statements already made.

Some of the detained PSM activists in a police truck

It appears that the top leadership of the PDRM is still smarting from the implied rebuke by the Home Minister who insisted the EO6 be released from the EO on 29 July 2011 without any conditions.

The Bukit Aman leadership wanted to extend the detention of the EO6 for the full 60 days at least and probably for another two years as well, But the immense pressure from the Malaysian public forced the Home Minister to scuttle that plan and insist on our release. It was getting politically far too costly for the BN to keep us in.

The PDRM, however, has again demonstrated its resourcefulness by sending a letter under section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code, dated 11 August 2011, to each of the nine members of the PSM “Udalah tu . . . ” campaigners. The letters order the recipients to present themselves at the Arau Police Station at 9.00am on 22 August 2011 for a statement to be recorded under section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948. The police letter ends ominously, stating that failure to present ourselves will result in a court warrant to compel our attendance!

The nine who are now being targetted include five out of the EO 6 as well as another four from the PSM 24. We were a group who had our IC particulars taken down by the Arau police on 24 June 2011 while we were pamphleting in Arau. All nine were arrested in Sungai Dua the following day and remanded for seven days during which three different statements were taken – by the Investigating Officer at the Seberang Perai Utara District Police Headquarters, by an officer from the Penang Police Contingent Headquarters and by the D7 team from Bukit Aman. The five EO 6 people had another long period of questioning by the Special Branch when under the EO. Following that, all nine have been charged – on 4 July 2011 and on 3 August 2011 – under Section 48(1) of the Societies Act (for aiding an illegal organisation – Bersih 2.0) and under Section 29(1) of the ISA for possession of subversive documents (as yet unspecified).

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Now we are being asked to appear for investigations under a 1948 law that the British colonialists enacted to hobble the nascent independence movement in this country! Section 3(1) of the Sedition Act defines “seditious” tendencies as attempts to excite disaffection against any government or the administration of justice in Malaysia! Such heinous crimes are punishable by a fine not exceeding RM3000 or a jail sentence not exceeding three years (Section 4(1) of the same law)! How come we still have such laws despite being independent for 54 years?!

A representative of the nine contacted the Arau police to ask if they could come to Ipoh on that day (22 Auguest) to take our statements. The officer was pleasant but said he had to check with his bosses (pihak atasan). The bosses have replied – No! You’ve got to come to Arau. So we have had no option but to get a lawyer to write officially to the Arau police pointing out that statements have been taken multiple times from all nine and again asking them to come to Ipoh for this additional statement. We are hoping they will respond to this letter in a civil manner!

At a press conference called in Ipoh yesterday, I said that the nine PSM members are disappointed with the police. “It is clear that they made a mistake in arresting us. There were no weapons on the bus. There was also no evidence to back the initial PDRM claim that we were planning to wage war with the Agung! The PDRM had received false information. They should apologise to us and move on to more important things. But what we see them doing now is again misusing their powers to try and pin some charge onto us to show that they were right in arresting us in the first place.”

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I went on to say that since Bukit Aman lacks the maturity to stop picking on the PSM, it is incumbent on the Home Minister to step in to ensure that the credibility and image of the PDRM is not tarnished any further by the intemperate tendencies of the Bukit Aman top brass!

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, an Aliran member, is the MP for Sungai Siput.

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Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, a long-time Aliran member and contributor, served as Member of Parliament for Sungai Siput from 2008 to 2018. A respiratory physician who was awarded a gold medal for community service, he is also a secretariat member of the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation and chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
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