Dr Michael Jeyakumar and five other members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) are suing the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy IGP and home minister for their 28-day arrest under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) in July last year, reports Anisah Shukry of the Malaysian Insider.
The claims made by the six plaintiffs, otherwise known as the “EO6”, are for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, assault and battery, malicious prosecution, particulars of malice/absence of reasonable cause or grounds, abuse of process, and misfeasance in public office and breach of statutory duty.
Also named in the suit were 78 other police officers involved in their arrests.
“We are doing this because we want the police in this country to work in a professional capacity,” Dr Jeyakumar told reporters on 23 March outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
“The police were acting for political reasons, which were to smear Bersih’s name. They used us, and that is wrong.
“If we let this slide, they might do it a second or third time to other Malaysians,” the Sungai Siput MP said.
But, he added, that many of the policemen named in the suit were sympathetic, and the real problem lay in their leaders as well as the home minister.
“We’ve made several attempts to hold a dialogue with the home minister. We wanted to ask him who told him we had weapons in the bus and that we were planning an attack on a police station in Sungai Siput. We just wanted to know who spread that misinformation,” he said.
“Because they refuse to discuss this with us, we have no choice but to bring this to court.”
The lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Edward Bon Tai Soon.
On 28 October last year, Dr Jeyakumar and five other PSM members were given a discharge not amounting to acquittal for allegedly owning subversive papers and gathering illegally ahead of the Bersih rally that took place in July.
On 19 September, police dropped all charges against 30 PSM activists arrested for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, including the six who were detained under the EO.
This came just days after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced reforms to security and press laws, including the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the lifting of three Emergency Declarations.
In place of the ISA, Najib had announced the drafting of two new laws to curb terrorism in the country, much like the Patriot Act in the US, which was enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Police detained the 30 PSM activists in Penang during the party’s “Udahlah Bersara” campaign and their arrests were later said to be linked to the government’s pre-Bersih rally clampdown.
They were then accused of attempting to revive communism and wage war against the King when T-shirts with the images of Marxist revolutionary leader Che Guevara and Malayan communist figures were found in their possession.
The “EO6”, including Dr Jeyakumar, were later imprisoned for 28 days under the EO, which allows for detention without trial for up to 60 days.
The other five were PSM deputy chairman M. Sarasvathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M. Sugumaran, Sungai Siput branch secretary A. Letchumanan and Youth chief R. Saratbabu.
Their subsequent release on 29 July, 20 days after Bersih 2.0’s tumultuous rally which saw thousands gathered in the capital to push for electoral reforms, was claimed to be a result of public pressure and negative publicity in the foreign media after the protest.