Heroes’ welcome for PSM 6

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) six Emergency Ordinance (EO) detainees were given a heroes’ welcome at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) here tonight when they arrived barely three hours after their surprise release.

In stark contrast to the silence of their gloomy 28-day confinement, the six were met with boisterous applause and cheers from a lively crowd of PSM members and supporters, most garbed in the party’s bright red shirts and brandishing banners and waving party flags.

First to arrive was a smiling Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar, whose detention under the preventive law, the first for an MP in Malaysia, had elevated him to hero status over the past few weeks.

The continued detention had also irked politicians from across the divide and drove the public to join the nightly vigils held outside the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

As he stepped into the KLSCAH compound, Dr Jeyakumar was immediately accosted by scores of supporters who rushed to greet him with words of encouragement and to welcome him home.

Also present to greet him were several notable personalities like PSM chairman Nasir Hashim, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan.

Speaking through a loudhailer, the soft-spoken bespectacled Dr Jeyakumar who was dressed simply in a gray shirt designed for a party campaign, immediately thanked Malaysians for his release.

“Thank you, everyone. Thank you. If not for you, we’d all still be inside. Their plan was to keep us for two years, I think.

“But because you Malaysians were united and supported us, we were freed today. This is people power. It is not the police who released us but the people. So, thank you, Malaysians,” he said.

Dr Jeyakumar began a hunger strike yesterday to protest the EO detention but the surprise order for his release and those of his five colleagues at 5.30pm this evening officially put an end to his plan.

The crowd surrounding him erupted in more cheers and applause, breaking out in song and chants of “Hidup Rakyat!”, “Mansuh EO” and “The people, united, will never be defeated”.

“I’m very, very sad that he had to go through that. Them keeping the six for another three weeks after the Bersih rally has caused many people to feel angry,” said Ambiga.

“Dr Jeyakumar is our most soft-spoken MP in Parliament. He has been fighting for the rights of the downtrodden, the orang asli community and the people.

“But today, we cannot stop … this is just the beginning. We not only want to abolish the EO and the ISA but we also want to ensure that no institution continues to be manipulated by a government that wants to rule forever and ever,” added Nurul Izzah.