Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the cabinet was not behind the use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) on Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.
The Umno supreme council member in an interview with The Star today said it was a purely police decision.
“The government and the cabinet were totally unaware and kept out of it. Had it been our decision, I think Maria Chin would have certainly not been arrested under Sosma,'' Nazri was reported as saying.
Maria was arrested on the eve of the massive Bersih 5 rally for electoral and democratic reforms.
The rally that saw at least 40,000 march through Kuala Lumpur, was initiated after the US Department of Justice launched its forfeiture suits to seize assets and expenses it claims had been embezzled from 1MDB.
Nazri nevertheless said the police had made the right decision, claiming the rally calling for a democratically elected leader to resign is unconstitutional.
“The Bersih 5 rally was illegal. I should know. I was the one who tabled the Peaceful Assembly Act,” he was reported saying.
Nazri was de facto law minister when Sosma and the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) were tabled in Parliament.
The authorities have since claimed the detention of Maria was over allegations Bersih had received funds from abroad linked to billionaire George Soros.
Yesterday four UN special rapporteurs for human rights in a joint statement urged the government to end persecution of activists such as Maria who are fighting for democratic reforms.
“We are dismayed at these allegations and wish to remind the government of Malaysia that the ability to receive human, material and financial resources from domestic, foreign and international sources is a vital part of the right to freedom of association.
“The allegation that an organisation might have received foreign funding in the past is not a legitimate ground to arrest and detain a human rights defender exercising her rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” they stressed.-Mkini