Monday, November 10, 2008
(Malaysiakini) The banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is planning to branch out into other civil rights movements to strengthen their struggle and make it difficult for the government to pin them down. Its activists are also mulling the formation of a political party to further champion the cause of disgruntled ethnic Indians in the country.
The Home Ministry’s ban on Hindraf last October has changed the mindset of the movement’s leaders, and they are now open to the idea of exploring other options to spearhead their cause.
Prior to the ban, they said activists were confined to Hindraf, making it easy for the authorities to nail them down.
"It forced us to explore other ways and means to continue our fight for justice, equality and freedom for all Malaysians," former Hindraf leader RS Thanenthiran (right) told Malaysiakini in Penang last night.
Although former Hindraf leaders had earlier considered joining component parties in Pakatan Rakyat, they have now concluded that having their own non-government organisations and political entities would be more effective.
"We can join Pakatan if we want to, on our own terms,"said Hindraf Perak co-ordinator A Vethamurthy
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar has claimed that Hindraf advocated ‘extremism’ to justify his ministry’s ban on the human rights movement, which shot to prominency when it filed a suit against the British government, Malaysian former colonial masters, early last year.
In the suit, Hindraf accused the British government of failure to protect the rights, interests and benefits of Malaysian Indians when then Malaya was bestowed independence in 1957.
Most Indians were brought in to Malaya as indentured plantation labourers.
Following the mammoth Hindraf rally on Nov 25 last year, five Hindraf leaders were detained under the draconian Internal Security Act.
The five were P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau and T Vasanthakumar. All were detained on Dec 13 for organising and participating in Hindraf activities.
'True' champions of the cause
Hindraf leaders also believe that the government ban on their movement has stopped several splinter groups, allegedly sponsored by Indian parties linked to the governing Barisan Nasional, from calling themselves the ‘true’ champions of the Indian cause.
London based Hindraf self-exiled leader P Waythamoorthy went as far as declaring that the "ban is a blessing in disguise".
Penang Hindraf deputy chairperson S Sanjay Ram said the ban had eliminated the confusion caused by these so-called bogus groups and made it clear to Malaysian Indians that only those who supported Waythamoorthy and his detained brother Uthayakumar were ‘genuine’ Hindraf activists.
Sanjay Ram is also optimistic that by splitting Hindraf into several inter-linked civil and political movements, the group can re-emerge as a more powerful movement and attract more support.
"A Hindraf based political party would break up support base of BN Indian parties," he said.
Since Hindraf activists revealed their intention to join Pakatan partners, it is learnt a delegation from the parliamentary opposition pact had held a private discussion with Waythamoorthy in London a few days ago.
Waythamoorthy has declined to provide details of the said meeting, but confirmed that Pakatan leaders have been in contact with him over the issue.
However, local Hindraf leaders are confident that Waythamoorthy would not make a political deal with Pakatan at the expense of Hindraf and Indian interests.
"He will not shirk his responsibility to the Indian community," said Thanenthiran of Waythamoorty, who is expected to make a announcement in a week’s time on Hindraf next move.
Re: Unlawful arrest of Bersih Peaceful Protesters
The latest arrest of those civic conscious public for attending a candlelight vigil to release all ISA detainees is another attempt by the UMNO led government who are currently operating in a modus operandi similar to a loose canon.
Currently in Malaysia, it is law of jungle that prevails as oppose to law of the nation for the public as arrogant and powerful self serving individual UMNO leaders continue to abuse the operation of law and the public to serve their own agenda.
The act of instilling fear and intimidation instigated by the UMNO led government is wearing out as the Malaysian public thirst in voicing their frustration against an authoritarian government is increasing in triple fold as the public embraces the idea that a concept of a free human being enjoying freedom from fear and intimidation can only be achieved and created if the change is initiated whereby everyone may enjoy his/her economic, social and cultural rights as well as his/her civil and political right.
The public's quest for truth, reality and freedom is in everyone and these self serving UMNO leaders cannot kill that spirit with their arrogance, fear and intimidation to silence the liberated Malaysian public.
The Federation of Human Rights Organizations of India is staging a demonstration on 13th November,2008,Thursday at 3 P.M.at High Commission of Malaysia situated at Chankaya Purl, New Delhi to protest the Ban imposed on Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) by the Government of Malaysia. The federation is also demanding equal rights for the people of Indian origin in Malaysia and the release of 5 members of HINDRAF detained by the Government of Malaysia under the draconian ISA of Malaysia.
The demonstrator would gather at Teen Murty Bhawan at about 2.30 P.M. and would proceed towards Malaysian High commission.
A delegation of consisting of representatives of various Human Rights, Civil rights organization would present a memorandum to the High Commissioner of Malaysia.
You are requested to sent your Reporter and Cameraman to cover the event.
The Home Minister without consultation with his peers nor the parliament decides to usurp the function of Attorney General's role in deciding that his ministerial function allows him to dictate how the AG's office should act.
Although it is obvious that Attorney General's office is not credited with impartiality but the ability of the Home Minister to direct and dictate the course of a legal action defeats a purpose of the existence of the AG's office and its role to act in a non partisan way to ensure the integrity of the state prosecutor remains intact without fear or favor.
The ability of the Home Minister to issue such direction to the AG's office clearly indicate the arrogance of the UMNO warlords who have little or no respect to the judicial process and its ability to toy around with the operation and rule of law to serve their own needs without any regard to separation of powers and its impartiality in addressing what is just and fair to serve the public interest
HINDRAF condemns out rightly the ability of the Home Minister to dictate and decide the will of the Attorney General's office in upholding public interest for the sake of UMNO warlords.
HINDRAF – Chairman
23 participants at a candle-light vigil to commemorate the first anniversary of the ‘07 mass rally last night were arrested in front of the Petaling Jaya civic centre.
All, except one, were released at 7am today on police bail. They are required to report to the PJ district police station on Nov 24.
UPDATED By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has been issued a show-cause letter by his party Umno over his outspoken opposition to the Internal Security Act.
He told reporters today that he was issued the letter two weeks ago.
The party letter was issued over Zaid's open letter to the Prime Minister regarding the use of the ISA and his support for the opposition's push to repeal it.
Speaking at a press conference today, he said his lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar would respond to the letter.
Zaid had quit Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Cabinet in September over ISA arrests and the lack of support for his proposed reforms, had written an open letter to the PM calling for the abolition of the law.
He said in his letter that the government had failed the people in repeatedly reneging on Tunku Abdul Rahman's promise that "the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent."
Zaid's presence and support of an opposition caucus against the ISA was also cited in the letter asking him to show cause.
Since leaving Cabinet, there has been widespread speculation over the political future of Zaid.
He is said to be contemplating quitting Umno and is being courted by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's PKR party.
The show-cause letter will certainly fuel more speculation.
A number of Umno leaders have been clamouring for action to be taken against him for his outspokenness.
Last week, Zaid also referred to the social contract as "racialist and a creation of Umno."
New Straits Times
Razak was charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul in the murder of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu.
I have given notice to the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to move an urgent motion of definite public importance in Parliament tomorrow urging the Cabinet to overrule Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s decision to appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision to free Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention.
My motion, under Standing Order 18, deplores Hamid’s decision to appeal as “utter contempt for the fundamental concept of the rule of law and the most rudimentary commitment to human rights in the country”.
The motion said:
“In ordering Raja Petra’s release after a 56-day ISA detention, Shah Alam High Court judge Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled in the blogger’s habeas corpus application that the Home Minister acted outside his powers in detaining Raja Petra under the ISA, as the grounds given for Raja Petra’s detention were insufficient rendering the ISA detention unlawful.
“Furthermore, Hamid acted mala fide in a very substantive manner in issuing a detention order under Section 8 of the ISA not because Raja Petra constituted a threat to national security but to frustrate the administration of justice and the rule of law by “killing off” Raja Petra’s earlier habeas corpus application slated for hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept. 23 to challenge the legality of his initial ISA detention on Sept. 12 under Section 73.
“The Shah Alam High Court decision to free Raja Petra is in fact a positive reflection in the last five months of the Abdullah premiership and should be the occasion for the Cabinet to undertake a full review of the draconian laws in the country as well as to uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers by repealing all legislation which institutionalizes the executive usurpation of judicial powers and independence by excluding judicial review of abuses of executive power, like Section 8 of the ISA.
“Hamid’s decision to appeal against the High Court decision is proof that the Minister, though a lawyer, is unrepentant in refusing to understand the changes demanded by Malaysians after the March 8 “political tsunami” for a full restoration of the just rule of law, a truly independent judiciary and a total end to all forms of abuses of executive power.
“The Cabinet should overrule Hamid’s decision to re-arrest Raja Petra and send him back to Kamunting Detention Centre.”
This is time for MCA, Gerakan and all Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders to walk the talk as MCA/Gerakan Ministers and leaders have been staging a “song and dance” in the country about their new-found opposition to and criticism of the ISA, demanding a review if not repeal of the draconian detention-without-trial law.
The MCA and Gerakan have in their recent national delegates conferences passed resolutions demanding review if not repeal of the ISA.
Last week, another BN component party, The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from Sabah also passed a resolution calling for review of the ISA at its national congress, questioning whether the ISA was still relevant and whether there was a need for the scope of the Act to be clearly defined if it was still needed.
Yesterday, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heong said in Alor Star that he is opposed to the ISA arrest of the Sin Chew senior report, Tan Hoon Cheng, DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin.
Did he make his opposition to the ISA arrests of the trio loud and clear to the Home Minister? Have the four MCA Ministers taken a common and collective stand in Cabinet to oppose the ISA detention of the trio, including Raja Petra?
Are Chor and the MCA, Gerakan, LDP and other BN leaders now prepared to oppose Hamid’s appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision on Raja Petra’s habeas corpus application – implying the re-arrest of Raja Petra and his being sent back to Kamunting Detention Centre?
The statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Kepala Batas on the ISA detention of Raja Petra is most unfortunate and shocking.
Abdullah claimed that the Government had always been careful when enforcing the ISA , stating: “The ISA is not a tool to be used at our whim and fancy. There must be reasons to warrant any arrest and it must be used with caution.”
When Abdullah cannot convince the Deputy Home Minister that the ISA had not been used arbitrarily at Hamid’s “whim and fancy”, how can the Prime Minister expect to convince Malaysians at large and the world outside that there had been no gross abuse of power of the ISA?
The Shah Alam High Court has found gross abuse of ISA power in Raja Petra’s detention. The court of national and international opinion are united in consensus that the ISA detention of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra are gross abuses of power – how else explain the relase of the Sin Chew report after eight hours and Teresa after seven days?
This is why there should be a special debate on the ISA in Parliament, including whether Hamid shoulod proceed with his decision to appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision to free Raja Petra from ISA detention .
With the latest developments, I call on Barisan Nasional MPs including Ministers and Deputy Ministers like Chor to endorse the collective requisition by 85 MPs for a full debate on the ISA.
The Parliamentary Caucus on Repeal of ISA and release of all ISA detainees will hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the issue.
1249: MP Tony Pua confirms that he is now out of the station on a personal bond and due to report back to the station on 24 Nov. He is now in Parliament. Recalling his nightmare, he writes in his blog:
I was arrested while seeking out Ronnie Liu and the senior police officers in charge to make sure that everyone was ok.
The CPO Selangor issued the call to arrest me, and two guys came over to grab one arm each and pushed me towards the Black Maria.
I stated that I will walk, don’t be rough but they tore my shirt instead. I repeated my call and three other police officers came at me, one with the knees into my belly while another attempted to kick my shin.
They then chucked me against the back of the Black Maria truck and shoved me up despite me stating that I can climb myself.
Apparently after waiting some two hours plus, it appears that they are going to keep us for the night here, and charge us tomorrow.
Weng San was also assaulted and had major bruises and some bleeding on the face. He saw the police who assaulted him here at the station, and Ronnie confronted him for his name. He appeared shaken by the demand and he refused to give his name and gave instead some very rude retorts.
1244: Malaysiakini reports that Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candle-light vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.
That is what they (participants) are claiming,” Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight.
When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.” READ MORE....
(Malaysiakini) Opposition representatives Tony Pua and Lau Weng San have claimed that Selangor police were rough with them when dispersing participants of a
Also refuting comments by Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, they told a press conference in the Parliament lobby today that the cops had started moving in while participants were in the midst of singing the national anthem.
Among those present at the press conference were DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang and secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
Pua, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, said a commotion erupted when the police began ordering participants to disperse while they were singing national anthem,
“Prior to that, I had told them (the police) that we would disperse peacefully afterwards. But halfway through the national anthem, they were already coming towards us,” he said.
He said Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu had earlier informed the police that participants would co-operate fully.
“As I was looking for (Liu), the CPO shouted at me, asking aggressively what I was doing there. But before I could explain myself, he called for other police officers to arrest me and they started to push me,” alleged Pua.
“So, I shouted at them (the police, saying) they should not push me because I would walk. That’s when my shirt was torn, and I was pushed to the (police) truck.”
Pua further alleged that the police had kicked him in the stomach and on the leg, saying this was “uncalled for”.
He condemned the arrest of Malaysiakini videographer Syukri Mohamad who “should not have been arrested for performing his duties”.
Liu was arrested at the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters where he had gone to assist the 23 people who were arrested. All except one were released at 7am today on police bail.
Lau, the Kampung Tunku assemblyperson, also narrated his side of the story.
He claimed that he had been punched twice in the face while was assessing the situation in his capacity as an elected representative.
“When I got there I was told that several people were being arrested. As I was approaching the crowd, one police officer shouted at me 'Keluar! Keluar!' (Get out!, Get out!),” said Lau.
“I told him repeatedly that I’m a YB (Yang Berhormat), but he ignored me and started pushing me away. I asked him to speak politely and that is when the officer got emotional.
“He lost his patience and started dragging me to a police truck. He also punched me twice in the face even though I told him that I would go voluntarily.”.
Lau showed journalists scratches and bruises on his right cheek and upper lip.
Expressing disappointment, he also said the police had failed to tell him why he was being taken into custody.
“He did not even show his identification card and refused to give his name but I can definitely recognise his face,” said Lau.
He added that he had lodged a police report at 4.29am and that he may consider legal action.
The decision Friday by High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad to free the Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of the internet publication Malaysia Today, has kicked off an intense round of speculation in Malaysia that the courts might be breaking loose from the thrall of the United Malays National Organisation, the country’s biggest ethnic political party.
Raja Petra was ordered jailed on a plethora of charges in September, mainly for writing a series of scathing if not scabrous editorials and articles that sought to link Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the 2006 execution murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, then 28, the jilted lover of Najib’s best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda. Abdul Razak and two of Najib’s bodyguards were arrested and subjected to one of the longest trials in Malaysian history before Abdul Razak was freed last week.
The decision to free Abdul Razak spurred widespread controversy from critics who argued that the well-connected think-tank director’s acquittal was engineered because of his friendship with Najib. One of the articles that got Raja Petra into trouble, among many, was his printing a private investigator’s allegations that Najib had been the woman’s lover and had passed her on to Abdul Razak. The bodyguards remain in jail and have been ordered to put on a defense, raising questions over why they would kill a woman they didn’t know without being ordered to do so.
In additional to being subject to charges of criminal defamation, Raja Petra was also charged with sedition and ultimately was given two years in prison for violating the country’s notorious Internal Security Act, which allows for what amounts to indefinite imprisonment without trial or habeas corpus. He was charged with publishing articles and readers’ comments critical of Islam and an insult to Muslims as well as publishing allegedly defamatory or false articles about Malaysia’s leaders “with the intention of undermining public confidence and inciting hatred against the government; the articles are alleged to be a threat to national security.”
“I believe some of the authorities didn’t want him released,” said a well-connected executive with ties to the regime of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. “It’s the judge. At least they’re more independent in making decisions now, and not afraid of upsetting the executive. As much as I dislike Raja Petra for the shithead he is, as you know the ISA has been abused too many times in the past and victims have had no avenue to seek justice. Of late, there have been several instances of judges making more independent decisions, and that gives us all hope.”
There are questions whether Raja Petra will stay released, however. One Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer said he thought Syed Ahmad had based his decision on faulty legal reasoning. “The AG is going to appeal Raja Petra’s release and another court may rearrest him,” he added. “I don’t think this is a big deal and you shouldn’t read too much into it.”
In late 2007, the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim kicked over an enormous scandal with a videotape that purported to show VK Lingam, a lawyer friend of Mahathir’s, in conversation with Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, then the country’s third-ranking judge who was in charge of most senior judges. The conversation seemed to indicate that Mahathir was closely involved in the appointment of malleable judges favourable to the then-prime minister’s closest cronies, particularly gaming tycoon Vincent Tan. Syed Hamid, the Shah Alam High Court judge who ordered Raja Petra freed, was appointed to his position during the reign of one notorious Supreme Court head, Eusoff Chin, who himself was accused of a host of judicial irregularities.
When Badawi took over as prime minister in 2002, he vowed reforms, but by and large he has been thwarted from within UMNO, which has split into two factions, one headed by Badawi. Mahathir, who will be 84 next month, has emerged as the de facto kingmaker behind the second despite leaving the party in a huff after an announcement earlier this year that he would be investigated on allegations that he had participated in the fixing of judgeships.
Although Mahathir held no official position in the party, his merciless attacks on his successor continued virtually since he left office, picking up considerable steam after UMNO received a relative drubbing in March 8 elections, losing the ruling national coalition’s two-thirds hold in parliament which had prevailed since independence 50 years ago. Badawi appears to have been fatefully weakened and has been forced to promise to step down early next year to make way for the scandal-tainted Najib, who has not only suffered from the allegations of his involvement with the murdered Altantuya but with other scandals stemming from his reign as defense minister.
Thus Raja Petra’s attacks on Najib are in effect an attack on the government itself. The scenarios involving his release range from a newly independent judiciary to a judiciary in revolt against the Badawi wing of the party to a slap in the face to Najib. The Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer pointed out that Mahathir himself had dealt the first blow by declaring that Raja Petra’s arrest was a mistake. He has defended Raja Petra ever since.
“I would like to think Raja Petra's release is an indication of a revitalised judiciary, re-asserting their role to be the arbiter between the overwhelming powers of the state and the right of an individual not to be denied his or her liberty arbitrarily,” said a well-connected political observer in Kuala Lumpur. “The judge's ruling suggests the courts will take a much stricter approach in assessing the government's claim that the person detained is a threat to national security.”
The observer pointed to two other significant recent cases that argue for a new impartiality on the part of the judiciary. First, Zaki Azmi, recently named Chief Justice by Abdullah Badawi, has publicly recused himself from hearing cases involving Umno, given the fact that he had been a lawyer for the party and because he had been elevated to the high court in record time.
In the other case, Sessions Court Judge SM Komathy Suppiah dealt the prosecution a serious setback in its attempt to bring opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to court on sodomy charges, dismissing a prosecution motion to move the case to another court.
“If there's one thing I am glad about what Abdullah Badawi has done is he has allowed so much more freedom that the likes of Raja Petra can get justice,” said the business executive. “Even more, ordinary people who were denied justice because big business and the executive had a hold on judges can now actually hope and actually get a fair hearing.”
Raja Petra’s arrest and those of other journalists and politicians under the ISA were met with widespread condemnation across the globe from press and civil rights organizations including Amnesty International, which said the government was using the ISA “as a repressive measure to control dissent. It should be revoked immediately, and Raja Petra, along with over 60 others currently held under the ISA, should either be charged with an offence and brought to fair trial or released immediately.”
“We welcome the release today of Raja Petra Kamaruddin but reiterate that he never should have been imprisoned in the first place," said Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, in a prepared statement. "CPJ calls on the Malaysian authorities to renew their lapsed commitment to a free and open Internet and to stop harassing the country's online journalists and writers."
For his own part, on his release Friday, Raja Petra said he believed the judge had acted independently without any outside influence.
"Malaysia Today is meant to provoke society, but when you touch on sensitive things, you will be detained .... It is like poking at a beehive, sometimes, you get stung,” he told the Kuala Lumpur-based Star newspaper. "But that is the only way to invite society to be united and to correct what is wrong."
Riot police today dispersed about 300 people who had gathered at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre.
The police moved into the crowd just as they were singing the national anthem and getting ready to leave. Before that they have heard short speeches from several politicians.
The crowd had walked over to the PJ Civic Centre shortly after 9.30pm after they had been originally dispersed from the Padang Timur, about a kilometre away, where they had gathered to take part in a candlelight vigil.
Just as the crowd started re-gathering at the Civic Centre, a team of anti-riot squad and a water cannon truck had arrived.
Shortly afterwards the police started dispersing the crowd using their shields.
In the ensuing melee, police arrested PJ Utara member of parliament and DAP leader Tony Pua, Kampung Tunku state representative Lau Weng San and 22 others. Also arrested was Malaysiakini videographer Shukri Mohamad.
"I was shooting the water cannon truck when a policeman told me to stop that. He ordered me to hand over the camera and tape. I turned and walked away when I was arrested," Shukri said when contacted.
Eyewitnesses said that Pua was physically manhandled and thrown into a waiting Black Maria. The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre.
Those arrested have been taken to the PJ police station. A small group of people have gathered outside in support of those arrested under the watchful eyes of a team of police anti-riot squad.
Candlelight vigil called off
Earlier, at about 9.35pm, a candlelight vigil organised by polls reform group Bersih was hampered by police insistence on the gathered crowd to disperse.
The vigil was to have started at 9.30pm at Padang Timur opposite Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya.
However, the police had started blocking the roads leading to the venue as early as 7pm.
And as the scheduled 9.30pm approached, the police urged the gathered crowd in the field to disperse.
The crowd had then moved into the nearby Amcorp mall, engaged in a ‘wait-and-see' game with the police.
Among those in the crowd were recently court-released ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu and DAP leaders Lau Weng San and Pua.
At about 9.30pm, the organisers told the crowd to disperse so as to avoid any trouble with the police.
Some of the people then decided to hold a mini-procession from the field to the PJ Civic Centre, about a kilometre away.
Eyewitnesses told Malaysiakini that roads leading to the PJ field have earlier been blocked by the police from about 7pm.
Some have complained that the roadblocks had stopped them from going to a famous fast-food outlet in the vicinity.
Many had resorted to park their vehicles in PJ new town - some two-kilometres away -to walk to the field to take part in the vigil.
At about 8pm, eye-witnesses said that about 100 people had gathered at the venue.
The police meanwhile had began asking the crowd to leave the place.
By 8.30pm - with only an hour away from the planned vigil - the police managed to turn away most of the people from the field.
The crowd, by now around 200, moved closer to the Amcorp mall, waiting for the organisers to start the vigil.
No water cannons
At the same time, about 20 federal reserve unit personnel took position just outside the shopping mall.
The candlelight vigil did not taken place as planned at 9.30pm. The field was totally deserted, with the crowd waiting in the mall for signs of a possible vigil.
Tonight's vigil was to have featured speakers from both civil society groups and political parties.
Bersih - or in full the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections - organised the rally to call for electoral reform as well as the abolition of the ISA.
A similar rally was also held in Ipoh tonight to commemorate the first anniversary of the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur last year.
That rally, attended by 350 people, proceeded without a hitch.
Poised to strike: FRU personnel glare menacingly from outside at the rakyat gathered inside the lobby of Amcorp Mall
Hazardous activity: Haris briefs the rakyat about the dangers of carrying lighted candles in a public place (Pictures by blog reader Michael).
The rakyat refused to back down despite the intimidation (Picture by blogger Jarod. More pictures and report at his blog here.)
There are two vigils today at 8.00pm in Ipoh and 9.30pm in PJ. Live updates with Rakyat@Work reporting from Ipoh and other sources in and around Amcorp Mall in PJ:
This is a sad night for peace-loving, justice-loving rakyat. But love conquers hatred and violence; justice will triumph over oppression. By attacking a peaceful crowd and detaining justice-loving Malaysians, the authorities have further undermined whatever moral authority they had.
0157: The courageous Angela, believed to be the organiser of the Seremban Abolish ISA vigils, may have been detained as well. Pray for her early release as well.
0153: Blog reader Linda continues with her vigil for all those unjustly detained:
My family and I are keeping vigil for all those detained especially our parish priest Fr Paulino. May the Holy Spirit give them the strength to go through this ordeal. They may break our bones but not our spirit.
Please remember all those detained in our prayer. That is our greatest weapon.
Well, I met Fr Paulino once at the Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam. He struck me as a remarkable priest with a social conscience.
0145: Blog reader Peng reports that the Ipoh vigil was so peaceful:
The Ipoh event tonight was, in contrast a safe affair. I noted four policemen standing far at the back of the field, just watching. At one point, one of them used a mobile phone to record the speeches. All speakers were allowed to speak their mind without interruption. I pray for those arrested in PJ tonight, that they will be treated fairly and civilly.
0117: MP Liew Chin Tong has given a statement saying he will bring up the matter in Parliament later today. He said the Selangor OCPD, who is said to be inside the station, must take responsibility for what happened. Others who have issued statements were Hannah Yeoh and Loh Gwo Burne, who pointed out that we can’t even sing Negara Ku now.
0107: A member of the Bersih secretariat is now reading out the names of those arrested. It would sound like a roll of honour.
0059: A small group of church members turn up to pray for the release of those arrested. Reporters are now allowed into the station.
0031: Wudan reports from Ipoh:
Just arrived home from the Ipoh vigil. We had a great time and the turnout was good despite a heavy rain earlier. While driving, received an sms about the Amcorp mall vigil. So sad to hear what has happened in the Amcorp mall vigil. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were arrested tonight.
Syed Albar and IGP Musa, please resign.
0029: One 53-year-old woman spoke at a press conference saying that while she was singing the Negara Ku, she was dragged from the back and fell down, hitting her head. She needed four stitches. Her 24-year-old son was detained.
0015: After all that has happened, blogger Lucia reports that Bersih member have set off fireworks a short distance away from the police station, lighting up the night sky. The rakyat are chanting, “Bersih! Bersih!” Incredible…
She adds, oops, Ronnie Liu has not yet been released. He just came out to give a statement and then went back in! “He thanked us for coming.”
Hopefully some of them might be released soon. Keep praying, folks. We will not rest until they are all out.
0010: Robert had a close encounter at the Civic Centre:
Phew, that was close. We (the crowd) were at the PJ Civic Centre listening, first, to Tony Pua, and then to RPK. We ended the event by singing Negara Ku, but half-way through, the 20-odd FRU policemen started their threatening gestures by banging on their shields and yelling threats. Then, as we sang the last line, the police moved in, aiming straight into the midst of the crowd.
Pandemonium broke out. I started to make a gradual retreat. I noticed scuffles between plainclothes police officers, believed to be Special Branch people, and some of the supporters. One of my friends who was shooting away with his camcorder was manhandled and hauled away. This is a sad day. We were on the verge of dispersing and going home, and yet the police had to charge into us. Barbaric? Let the world tell us.
0008: Blog reader sad sounds… well, sad:
Just came back from the Amcorp/PJ Civic centre vigil and still can’t believe that the police charged into the crowd in the midst of singing our beloved national anthem “Negaraku”. Apparently, there was no warning and arrests were made randomly. It would appear that the police themselves are showing gross disrespect by disrupting the singing of our national anthem “Negaraku”. Maybe someone should report the police under the Sedition Act for not respecting our national anthem “Negaraku”?
0003: Blogger Lucia at the police station reports:
We talked to some Bersih members. They told us one of their members was hit by …. We just sang Negara Ku. Now Ronnie Liu, who was also detained, just came out.
Folks, keep praying and light a candle at home for their release.
2354: Eye-witness and blog reader Paradiz recalls what happened:
My wife and I were there tonight, the FRU charged at us as the Negara Ku was being sung. They were waving their batons threateningly and shouting for us to disperse. I think they were itching to start beating people up.
We had no choice but to run although some did not. After scattering, we went back into the park and were shouted at by the FRU to disperse. That was when we saw some plainclothes cops chasing a few of the people in yellow Bersih and black and red “Free RPK” T-shirts.
Blog reader Ben reports:
RPK and Marina are safe. I saw them walking towards Shah Motel at about 10.20pm. The commotion was at the MBPJ park.
The Centre for Independent Journalism has issued a press statement condemning the police action:
CIJ calls on the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan to free those arrested and explain the use of the riot police in controlling the crowd, which had planned for a peaceful gathering. The continuous use of force against people expressing their views on issues such as the need for free and fair elections and abolishing the ISA is a demonstration of the intolerance for public criticism of the status quo.
2349: Eaglewings reflects on the recent vigils:
For the past four weeks, we had such peaceful vigils. With no police presence, everyone left peacefully and took back a little something with them in their hearts. We made new friends, sang songs together but we were there for only one reason: “Give those detained under the ISA their rights back”.
Today, with police presence, just look at the commotion. Isn’t it obvious? Have they forgotten that they have to protect the rakyat and not attack the rakyat? Until we get rid of this Home Minister, the story continues….
2348: Detained MBPJ city councillor Ms Tiew Way Keng has sent an SMS to her fellow councillor:
23 arrested. Tony, Ronnie, Weng San, I and others.
2341: Blog reader Eric reports again:
My wife saw RPK being ushered/hurried away by a green-stripes collar shirt man. Hope RPK is not caught.
2340: People are just so upset. Among them is blog reader Desmond who was at the scene:
I was there at the Civic Centre garden, we were singing the Negara Ku and the FRU charged at us, banging their shields and shouting angrily at us and ordering us to disperse. It was barbaric and uncalled for. We will not be intimidated by their brute force and will continue our fight for a better tomorrow.
2336: It appears that police could have been targeting some of those wearing the Bersih and RPK T-shirts, says another contact at the police station. “We have started lighting candles. The speaker just now was Gobind Singh. Lim Kit Siang has just turned up.”
2326: A press conference is being held outside the police station. It appears there could have been a few more arrests.
2316: About a hundred people have gathered at the PJ police headquarters. Apparently, police have now started blocking roads leading to the station. Among those arrested is believed to be Rev Fr Paulino Miranda, the parish priest of the Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam.
Eye-witness Eric reports:
My wife saw the plain-clothes police taking away a few women and small-built persons (could be teenagers). The police also dragged a man on the floor for 10 feet while heading to the Black Maria.
2311: MBPJ councillor Ms Tiew Way Keng is among those arrested, a fellow councillor in MBPJ tells me. If you know of any other person who was arrested, do let us know.
2306: Lis who was at the scene earlier tonight is shocked:
So upset! So upset! I was there at the Taman Jaya station car park, but didn’t go to the mall when I was told by a family that the people had dispersed.
I left the place as I was alone. I didn’t know so many things had happened until I got home to read all the internet postings!
Another sad day! Why the arrests? What did they do?
2301: Malaysiakini reports that their videographer Shukri Mohamad has also been arrested. I hope someone has video footage of the police charge. Malaysiakini adds in its report:
Eyewitnesses said that Pua was physically manhandled and thrown into a waiting Black Maria. The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre.
Those arrested have been taken to the PJ police station. A small group of people have gathered there in solidarity. A team of police anti-riot squad is also on standby.
2254: Blog reader Eric reports:
Tony Pua and Lau Weng San have been nabbed. I was there; my friend got caught too. They are waiting in the Black Maria.
2253: About 20 people are believed to have been detained including MPs Tony Pua, Adun Lau Weng San, blogger Ariff Abdul and a town councillor.
MPs Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, Charles Santiago and Teresa Kok have now arrived at the scene.
2246: “One of my friends was apprehended,” says Rakyat@Work.
2225: My other source reports: “We gathered at the Civic Centre garden open space. Tony Pua gave a short talk followed by RPK and we ended by singing Negaraku. At that point, the line of FRU personnel started moving towards us, knocking their shields and shouting in a threatening manner and they walked through the crowd - at which point we had to open up the crowd as they moved towards the core of the crowd. We broke up and there was some scuffling and there was some chasing.
“So at this point we don’t know what happened to RPK and the other three MPs, Ronnie Liu, Tony Pua and Lau Weng San. At this moment, the crowd has dispersed having run helter skelter. The police are still there shouting at some of the crowd still lingering there.”
I can hear sirens wailing in the background. Are we witnessing the return of the worst intolerance for dissent reminiscent of the Mahathir era?
2220: Police, FRU and SB charge at the crowd as they are trying to walk to the road outside Civic Centre. “Personally, I saw about seven people being detained,” says my source. The police appeared upset as RPK was speaking.
“They are running after someone now. Oh God, I see about six or seven police trying to drag a guy in yellow shirt who is resisting. They are taking him away now. I would imagine more than ten have been taken by now.”
2203: Some of the crowd are now at the A&W awaiting the arrival of the Bersih group.
2200: Well, well, well, I spoke too soon again. It’s not quite over. A section of the rakyat is now heading for the Civic Centre, about 15 minutes walk from Amcorp Mall. Among the crowd are RPK and Ronnie Liu. The police are probably aware and will no doubt be meeting them there again!
2154: Earlier tonight, Zorro spoke in Ipoh and congratulated the people there for coming out to call for the abolition of the ISA. The event there was well-organised with tents erected, banners and audio equipment. Syabas, Ipoh!
2157: “They are still not satisfied with my release,” says RPK over the phone, as I welcomed him back to freedom. “I think they want to re-detain me. Anyway, I have just posted something on the Malaysia Today website.”
2149: A big thank you to our brave god-sent “angels” - Rakyat@Work and other sources - hovering at the scene, taking note of everything and who have been providing us with live reports tonight.
2135: It’s all over. About 300 of the rakyat re-group at the lobby of Amcorp Mall; Haris leads the group in singing Negaraku, and then the crowd disperses peacefully. They have made their point loud and clear. They want the ISA to go. Mansuhkan ISA!
2118: The vigil in Ipoh ends without incident. It’s an unqualified success. But tonight the spotlight is trained at Amcorp Mall in PJ.
2106: Lim Kit Siang addresses the crowd in Ipoh. “Stand up for your rights!” he exhorts them. Other speakers include Sivarasah and Zorro. About a dozen police personnel are watching from a distance.
2105: Over in Ipoh, Rakyat@Work arrives at the venue and is surprised to find a larger than expected crowd. “Wow, turnout of 350 people!”
2104: Organisers inside the mall have told the rakyat to go shopping(!) until 9.30pm, reports my contact at the scene, and then they will decide what to do. “The police are still outside; they have not come in,” he says.
2054: About 20 FRU personnel are outside the Mall, while 200 of the rakyat are inside the Mall in the lobby area. The rakyat are barely 30 feet away from the FRU outside. “As long as the FRU do not advance on us, we are safe,” says my contact in the lobby. But the FRU personnel appear to be armed with tear gas cannisters.
2048: He spoke too soon. The FRU are forming a line; someone shouts “Mansuhkan ISA!” and that prompts the FRU to move forward. “The FRU are advancing now and people are retreating to Amcorp Mall,” reports my contact at the scene. There are a few yellow-shirted Bersih people around now.
2046: The police have once again asked the crowd to disperse or face the consequences. Haris has addressed the crowd, telling them he leaves it up to them. They can remain there or walk around in groups of four. People are not quite sure what to do. “For the moment, it is still peaceful,” says my contact. Bersih-affiliated MPs are expected to arrive at 9.00pm.
2035: The crowd has moved away from the field. There are now about 200 people in the area with another one or two dozen blue-uniformed cops including senior officers. My contact tells me there is bit of a stand-off but it’s not confrontational. Police have been cordial in advising the crowd to disperse. Tony Pua and Haris arrive at the scene.
Meanwhile, Rakyat@Work is nearing the venue of the Ipoh vigil.
2022: Police have asked the crowd near Amcorp Mall to disperse. There is no one on the field now.
2010: An eye-witness reports that close to a hundred people are now at the padang near Amcorp Mall. They are just milling around; nothing has started. The talk is that the proceedings will begin at 9.00pm. All roads to the venue are still blocked.
2005: From what I hear, the Bersih group are now trying to think of an alternative location. They were supposed to have gathered near Amcorp Mall at 9.30pm after the 8.00pm Abolish ISA vigil, but that’s not looking possible now.
1940: My contact in PJ has been circling around, trying to get to the venue, but all four entry points into Amcorp Mall are blocked by traffic police.
1928: Federal Highway from Jalan Utara is blocked. Police are said to be present around Padang Timor near Amcorp Mall. They are obviously not taking any chances, even though it is unlikely the Bersih folks would have managed to get a big crowd this time.
1909: The road blocks near Amcorp Mall could be because the Bersih coalition (campaigning for electoral reforms) is expected to join the Abolish ISA group.
Meanwhile, Rakyat@Work is now in Taiping, heading to Ipoh.
1857: It looks as if roads are blocked in all directions heading towards Amcorp Mall and even A&W.
1852: We are getting reports of a road block heading to Amcorp Mall.