Police intimidation worse under PH, claim rights groups

(FMT) – Human rights groups have slammed what they call police intimidation against activists, asking if the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has changed its stance on upholding the right to peaceful assembly after taking over Putrajaya.

PSM’s S Arutchelvan said he had been called up by the police just for handing over a memorandum to PH leaders.

He said he was called up for handing over the memorandum to stop the demolishment of houses at Kampung Bukit Kuda, Klang, to the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as another on matters related to Bank Negara.

He said there was no untoward incident or violence involved.

According to him, the police had lodged a report and were in the midst of an investigation.

Speaking at a press conference at the Suaram office, he said under Barisan Nasional (BN), the police would investigate complaints of large protests or assemblies.

“They would only lodge a report if criminal acts or violence was detected. But not for submitting a memorandum. Police intimidation is more rampant now,” he said.

He noted that such behaviour was against the PH manifesto pledge to review the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and do away with draconian laws that are against the constitution.

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said it was disappointing that police intimidation appeared to be continuing under the new government

He said on Oct 24, a family had asked to meet Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin about the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma.

“The minister agreed to meet us, but the police continued to block us,” he added.

He also said he was still being called for questioning over peaceful assemblies carried out under the BN administration.

He said police had also called up those involved in the demonstration over the increase in minimum wage outside the Parliament building on Oct 17. This included the driver and the person holding the loud hailer, he added.

Sevan said there had been no violence at the protest, adding that even Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran had come out to shake hands with the protesters.

“But after that, the police started to question us. I feel that police intimidation is getting worse against us,” he said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J Solomon said the Sentul police were informed of the protest on the minimum wage increase within the required time frame.

However, he said he received a call from the Dang Wangi police two days ago, informing him that a police officer had lodged a complaint claiming they were not informed that the protesters would park their vehicles at Padang Merbok before heading to the Parliament building.

“From my understanding, we can notify the police at any police station,” he said, adding that they had never encountered such problems before.

“I was puzzled because the entire gathering was done peacefully. There was no violence and we followed the law.”

He said it was “very unbecoming” of the police to behave in such a manner, adding that the protest was held for a good cause.

“We didn’t gather to overthrow the government, but to speak on the behalf of poor workers.”

He urged Putrajaya to look into the issue to prevent raising the people’s ire against the new government.

Activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri from Malaysia Muda, meanwhile, said Muhyiddin should be aware of what the police were doing, and called on the home minister to instruct them to stop any form of intimidation.