MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, July 30, 2011

EO6: A bitter lesson for the govt

The Najib administration should now learn to respect the ‘rule of law’ instead of bending over backwards to fulfill its own hidden agendas


Abusing the Emergency Ordinance 1969, six breadwinners of their families’ were thrown behind bars and defamed with having waged a war against the King, holding subversive beliefs and instigating the rakyat to attend a rally which the police had deemed illegal.

Yesterday, 28 days later, all six were set free, unconditionally. The question that begs an answer from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is: What happened in those 28 days’ that made him, his cousin the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar realise that the six are innocent and should rightfully be released?

Or was it a case of all three parties being well aware of the innocence of the six but proceeded to used them as scapegoats, hoping to teach Malaysians in general a lesson for taking to the streets on July 9, 2011 and challenging the ‘powers that be’?

The six detained were Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael D Jeyakumar, Parti Sosialis Malaysia deputy president M Sarasvathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M Sukumaran, Youth chief R Saratbabu and Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan.

Despite cooperating with the police, the six were treated like hardcore criminals, being held in solitary confinement and deprived of all basic necessities including their medication as in the case of Jeyakumar and Sarasvathy.

It was much later that the police claimed the six were detained for allegedly being “movers” for the July 9, 2011, rally organised by election watchdog Bersih 2.0 (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections).

However, none of the six were steering committee members of the Bersih 2.0 which was declared illegal by the government. The coalition comprises of more than 60 non-governmental organisations.

What rule of law, Najib?

On July 29, after a tormenting 28-day ordeal, when all six were released, Najib had this to say: “It is a decision (to release) taken by the police based on their own observation.

“We accept the decision made by the police… it is up to the attorney-general to decide on the next course of action. As a sovereign country we uphold the rule of law.”

Is Najib confirming that this country has turned into a police state, with the police having absolute liberty to detain and abuse whoever they wish?

Premier Najib said Malaysia as a sovereign country upholds the rule of law.

The rule of law states that individuals, persons and government shall submit to, obey and be regulated by law and not arbitrary action by an individual or a group of individuals.

Clearly Najib contradicted himself, for in the case of the six, the rule of law was never applied. It was the arbitrary action of the ‘powers that be’ that resulted in the detention of the six who later became known as PSM6.

And in case Najib has forgotten, the rule of law applies to the government as well, compelling it to obey the law and not manipulate it to serve the interest of a select few.

PM pressured to release PSM6

The PSM6 were finally set free not because the police or Najib had an awakening of any kind. Rather, it has to with the Barisan Nasional government’s fight for survival in light of the coming general election has brought the Federal government to its knees.

The pressure was made worse by the severe condemnation and pressure for their release that came pouring in after the six were held under the EO.

The release of the PSM6 certainly calls for a celebration and for sure it excludes all gratitude to Najib.

Hours after his release, Jeyakumar told reporters the release of PSM6 was a “smart political move” by Najib in face of the eroding public support.

“It’s definitely due to public pressure that we were released. He was losing popularity and realised that it too politically costly to keep holding us,” Jeyakumar said.

He added that it was the pressure imposed by the people that forced the government to release him and his party colleagues.

Jeyakumar said there were strong movements by the people in holding candlelight vigils, peace marches and hunger strikes nationwide, all calling for the release of the six.

“It’s not because the police were being sensible. They were out to get us to use us as an example.”

He said PSM’s next step would be to gauge the situation and perhaps file a case as they had been wrongly detained under the Emergency Ordinance.

“It’s a huge step forward for democracy, a victory for all of us,” added Jeyakumar.

Government’s agenda

Jeyakumar believes the government and the police had their own agendas and aims. The good doctor during a family visit while in detention had said the police were “not listening” and were trying to frame the six based on unsubstantiated allegations.

This in spite of all six having cooperated with the police, giving rise to the conclusion that the police was finding ways of incarcerating them.

With no other avenue left, Jeyakumar decided to go on a hunger strike on July 28, to demand the release of PSM6. Supporting him were 14 members from five PSM Perak branches.

The PSM6 were arrested in Kepala Batas on June 26 on claims that they were distributing leaflets urging the public to support the Bersih 2.0 demands for free and fair elections.

They were then re-arrested on July 2 under the EO which allows the police to detain suspects for up to 60 days.

A habeas corpus application was also filed by the family members of the PSM 6 to secure their release, and Aug 5 was fixed for the hearing date of the application.

It is hoped the PSM6 detention will serve as a bitter lesson for the Barisan Nasional government, prompting it to respect the ‘rule of law’ and not bend it backwards to fulfill its own hidden agendas.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance journalist and an FMT columnist.

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