Dec 10, 07 4:18pm
The government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is leading Malaysia towards a police state, said PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
“It no longer upholds the democratic system that serves as the foundation of the Federal Constitution,” said Abdul Hadi in a statement released yesterday.
This was in response to the arrest of nine people – including six lawyers – for ‘defying the authorities’ while commemorating World Human Rights Day in Kuala Lumpur.
Abdul Hadi noted the irony of the police action during “the peaceful event organised in commemoration of World Human Rights Day”.
“This is yet another assault on the already lopsided and sullied human rights record in this country,” he said.
Abdul Hadi also said parallel developments in Terengganu reflect the same pattern of injustice.
He was referring to the Kuala Terengganu Session Court’s decision to deny bail to two PAS members, Suwandi Ab Ghani, 38, and Muhammad Azman Aziz, 21.
They have been charged with causing hurt to a police personnel during the Pantai Batu Buruk incident on Sept 8, although they had sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and neck respectively, following a clash between police and locals. .
The policeman has not been charged to date, but had earlier been described as having opened fire in self-defence after being set upon by an armed mob.
The clash occurred after the police refused to grant a permit for a public forum organised by the electoral reform coalition Bersih, which comprises 67 non-governmental organisations and five opposition parties including PAS.
Hadi called on “all PAS members throughout the country” to participate in prayer sessions and to ask that “Allah destroy every form of injustice and save us all from the havoc of the Barisan Nasional government and its marginalisation of democracy and human rights”.
Following the abortive ceramah at Batu Buruk, Bersih managed to gather some 40,000 protesters in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 10 to hand over a memorandum to the King’s representative, despite the denial of a police permit and use of tear gas and water cannon.
On Nov 25, the Hindu Rights Action Force similarly gathered some 30,000 supporters to back an attempt to hand over a memorandum to the British High Commission. They too were dispersed with police action and several face prosecution on various charges.
The Bar Council, which had held a ‘Walk for Justice’ in Putrajaya in September, called off ita annual walk for human rights last Sunday – due to pressure to obtain a police permit – but proceeded with its Festival of Rights at its premises.
A smaller group of lawyers, however, decided to proceed with the march, but were stopped by police and then detained.
Eight of them, including lawyers N Surendra, Latheefa Koya, R Sivarasa, Eric Paulsen and Amer Hamzah, have been charged with participating in an illegal assembly and disobeying the police order to disperse.
Another lawyer, Edmund Bon, has been charged with obstructing Kuala Lumpur City Hall officers from performing their duty, while removing human rights banners outside the Malaysian Bar building in Leboh Pasar Besar.
The remaining persons arrested were activists Anthony Andu and Noor Aza Othman, and a bystander identified only as Ashraf Ali Raja.
Hadi: M'sia heading towards a police state