The Anti-ISA Vigil in Penang – 5 Arrested

How can carrying candles be wrong? How can those who carry candles be treated more roughly than those who carried a cow-head?

By Masterwordsmith

Together with my family, I was at the anti-ISA vigil that was held at the Speakers’ Square, Esplanade this evening. We made our way there after dinner at about 8.30p.m. thinking that it would be a breeze to get a parking lot. Much to our surprise, all the roads leading to the place were barricaded by the police. After parking at Green Hall, we took a leisurely stroll to the place.

Earlier this evening, a friend had already informed me that there were many policemen at the place and that posters had been put up on trees warning people NOT to attend the event. As we walked along the promenade, the faces of hawkers were glum as the place was deserted for a Sunday evening. Approaching the site, I noticed that there were many people, especially those above 40, seated along the promenade. There were police cars here and there and two police trucks.

The Speakers’ Square was in darkness but I could see the silhouettes of many people standing in the field. There did not seem to be any program going on. A passer-by saw my boy trying to take snaps of the police truck and remarked, “The youngest activist in Malaysia eh?”

I introduced myself to Mr. Yeoh and he told me that earlier, two had been arrested. By 8.50pm Georgetown district police chief Gan Kong Meng had asked the crowd of about 100 to “disperse in five minutes.” There were about less than 200 police personnel stationed around the area.

Unfortunately, none of my pics turned out because I did not know which mode to use (~wits0~ needs to give me extra tips). I saw 4 FRU personnel with full gear standing in front of the truck.

After a brief discussion with Mr. Yeoh, I bumped in Jing Cheng of SUARAM who told me that one of those arrested was my friend Kris Khaira (GMI, PSRM) and two others. At that time, they did not know where they had been taken – either to the Jelutong Police Station or the Patani Road Police Station but he informed me that no matter what, upon confirming which police station they were being detained, the rest would make their way to there to continue the vigil. Along the way, I met Romerz and had a brief chat with him.

Since tomorrow is a school day, I had to go home with my husband and son. Shortly after I came home, Dr. Pa of Sembang-Sembang called to let me know that they were there at the Jelutong Police Station.

While writing this post, I called him again and he confirmed that there are about 50 supporters who are there at the Jelutong Police Station and a total of FOUR have been arrested namely:

* Darshan Singh Khaira
* Kris Khaira (Darshan’s son)
* Choo Choon Kai
* Jing Cheng

I could not believe my ears as I had just been talking to Jing Cheng earlier. Again, I confirmed with Dr. Pa if indeed it was the four and he confirmed it. He reckoned that they had already earmarked who to nab and targeted younger ones who could be more easily intimidated. He said that they were waiting for MP Liew Chin Tong to be there. MP Liew was still at the Speakers’ Corner giving a press conference.

After posting this, I am going to the police station to stand in solidarity with them. More updates later.

UPDATED at 11.25p.m. I just came back from the Jelutong Police Station.

As I drove down Jalan Teh Ewe Lim to make my way there, I saw the flashing lights of police cars from the junction of Jalan Teh Ewe Lim and Jalan Sir Ibrahim. I thought it might have been just a police car making its way back to the station but when I approached the place, I was so shocked.

There were soooooooooooooooo many police men stationed outside the police station. There must have been about 80 to 100 supporters who were there.

Driving past the police station, I could see many supporters and onlookers who were gathered in small groups of five or six around the area. The gates were locked and policemen were behind the gates looking out while other policemen were almost like a human wall outside the gates. Three police cars with flashing lights were parked opposite the police station and policemen with torchlights and dressed in high visibility vests were directing traffic that slowed down to see what was happening.

I had to drive round the block as I could not find a parking lot. Soon after, I approached the police station again and was able to park my car safely. As I walked towards the police station, I saw people dispersing and policemen were shouting “Balik! Balik!” or “Bersurai”. I bumped into Kah Cheng and her husbandKM Lee, Anil Netto and other members of the Coalition of Good Governance who were walking to meet at a nearby coffee shop. I wanted to join them but Cinderella could not go home too late. I saw Dr. Pa getting ready to shift his car as I tried to take a shot and even so, a poor one of the scene.

Most dejectedly, I walked back to my car with many thoughts in my mind. It is a sad day for Malaysia because the rakyat have not been able to exercise their democratic right to gather peacefully. I believe if the vigil had carried on, none of the organizers would have made any statement that would incite public unrest.

Tonight, hundreds across the nation gathered to light a candle in silent protest of the Draconian ISA which many believe should be repealed. We have heard that there will be reforms but there is no word as to what sort of reforms even though it has been some time since that announcement.

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