Arrest of eight including five
lawyers for peaceful Human Rights Day march in Kuala Lumpur marred
celebration of Human Rights Day and blotted Malaysia’s international image
on human rights
by Lim Kit Siang
and arbitrary police arrests of eight people, including five lawyers,
for the peaceful march to mark the International Human Rights Day in
Kuala Lumpur this morning has marred the celebration of Human Rights Day
and blotted Malaysia’s international image on human rights.
The arrest of the eight, including five lawyers, N Surendran, Latheefa
Koya, R Sivarasa, Eric Paulsen and Amer Hamzah, and human rights
activists Anthony Andu and Norazah Othman in totally unprovoked
circumstances is a great shame for the Abdullah premiership, as the some
100 people who had gathered at Sogo Department store in Kuala Lumpur to
march to the Central Market in the federal capital clearly posed no
threat to anyone, let alone national security, public order or peace.
Why couldn’t the police leave the marchers alone, only taking action if
they pose a threat to national order or security, eschewing all forms of
police over-reaction which can only add to the list of adverse
international publicity which had been piling for Malaysia in recent
The police arrests of the eight on International Human Rights Day is
doubly ominous for it is a clear symbol that the Abdullah premiership,
which had started with the false promise of greater respect for human
rights, has finally taken off its velvet glove to show the iron fist
within to crush expressions of human rights in the country.
It makes total nonsense of Royal Police Commission headed by former
Chief Justice, Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah which had identified upholding
human rights as one of the three core objectives of the Police force in
the 21st century – the other two being to keep crime low and to
eradicate corruption in the police service.
Suhakam has also been calling for a revamp of police mentality on human
rights, to transform the police stance of innate hostility to human
rights to that of an agent and ally of change to promote and protect the
human rights of Malaysians. Clearly, Suhakam’s various proposals to
mainstream human rights in police mindset and strategy have fallen on
Abdullah has been Prime Minister for four years and is starting his
fifth year as Malaysian premier. The institutions, instruments and
mentality of repression of human rights have not been dismantled in the
past four years of Abdullah premiership, which means that there has been
no basic difference from the Mahathir premiership as the draconian laws
and powers can be dusted off any time to crack down on human rights and
democratic freedoms in Malaysia.
The eight arrested today in connection with the Human Rights Day march
should be released forthwith and Abdullah should direct the police to
undertake a full review of its mindset and modus operandi to ensure that
the police are attuned to the Merdeka Constitution and Rukunegara
principles which give pride of place to democracy and human rights as
important national objectives.
I will raise in Parliament tomorrow the high-handed and arbitrary police
arrests of the eight on international Human Rights Day and demand a
public apology by the police.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman