Malaysia, a “crisis country”
Posted November 16, 2008on:
|Peaceful anti-ISA protest in PJ|
|Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Nov 16, 08 8:58pm|
|About 200 people this evening gathered at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre to hold a protest against the Internal Security Act, but unlike last Sunday, the police did not make any arrest.
The reason being this time around the organisers have obtained a police permit to hold the protest.
Last Sunday, the police dispersed a group of protesters and arrested 23 persons, including several top politicians and Malaysiakini videographer.
PJ city councillor Richard Yeoh told Malaysiakini that he had applied for a police permit to hold the gathering last Friday and was given an approval yesterday.
It is learnt that the gathering, which is organised by a group of concerned citizens, will be held at the same spot on a weekly basis.Previously the group had gathered on Sundays at the Padang Timur, opposite the Amcorp Mall, to express their opposition to the preventive detention law.
Last Sunday, the police had blocked the group from approaching the field, resulting in the crowd opting to march instead to the Civic Centre, about 2km away, to hold their protest.
At the Civic Centre, the police dispersed the crowd and made a number of arrests while the protesters were in the midst of singing the national anthem.
Today, the police presence at the venue was markedly reduced, down to a handful of plainclothes officers.
However, just as the gathering gained momentum today at about 8pm, many of those in the crowd started lighting up their candles. Some were wearing anti-ISA T-shirts and there were also some political speeches.
Yeoh told the crowd that there were actually 12 conditions, which also included a prohibition against the organisers from conducting activities that suggest sympathy towards ISA detainees and no distribution of banners or leaflets.
Yeoh lamented that the individuals concerned would have to face the law if they were caught breaking the conditions of the police permit.
Haris argued that it was the right of the people to protest against an unjust piece of legislation.
Among those present at the gathering were Klang parliamentarian Charles Santiago, Seputeh MP and Selangor exco member Teresa Kok and recently released ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamarudin.
The crowd also observed a one-minute silence for Paula Khoo who was arrested last night in Penang for co-organising a peaceful anti-ISA candlelight vigil in the Esplanade. She was released on police bail some four hours later.
The crowd eventually dispersed without any untoward incident at about 9.30pm.
Motion for a pay cut
She said that a diplomat had recently told her that Malaysia was labelled by the European Union as a ‘crisis country’ because of its use of the ISA, which allows detention without trial.
This, she said, would have a negative impact on foreign investment.
“I have also filed for a motion in the Parliament to propose a RM10 pay cut against Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan,” she said.
Kok herself was arrested and detained under the ISA for a week in September for allegedly raising Islamic issues.
Last week, she filed a law suit against Syed Hamid and Musa for abusing their powers in using ISA against her.
Santiago meanwhile said that the gathering tonight showed that the people did not fear in expressing their protest against the ISA.
“The crackdown last week had prompted many people to come out today. From this you can see that there is a movement around the country that detest this law,” he said.