Kit Siang files suit over arrests

By A. Hafiz Yatim and V. Vasudevan (NST)
13 December, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang filed a suit yesterday against the police and government over an incident at the parliament compound on Tuesday. Pas election director Datuk Mustafa Ali and six members from the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) were arrested at the scene.

They were arrested after distributing a memorandum entitled “Say no to the ’Save Rashid’ amendment to the constitution” although they were given permission to go through a police roadblock.
Lim named the Sentul district police chief, Inspector-General of Police and the government as defendants.
The suit was filed by Karpal Singh at the High Court registry.
Lim in his statement of claim alleged that at the commencement of the 11th Parliament in May 2004, a motion was unanimously passed for the IGP to ensure that policemen were prohibited from causing disturbance within the precincts of the Dewan Rakyat.
The opposition leader claimed that the ex-parte order obtained by Sentul OCPD against Pas central committee member Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi, Pas vice-president Mohamad Sabu, Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud and Adnan Saad and others from the gathering was vague.
He claimed that the restraining order obtained on Monday could not have been gazetted by Tuesday, which was required under the Criminal Procedure Code.
Lim claimed that DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok along with Mustafa held a press conference on Tuesday in the parliament building where the memo was distributed to MPs.
Mustafa and six others were later detained at the parliament car park when they were leaving.
Lim claimed that they were taken to the Kuala Lumpur police contingent headquarters and released at 4pm.
He alleged that anyone given clearance to enter Parliament House should not have been subjected to arrest, in keeping with the directive from the motion passed in May 2004.
Lim claimed he was duty bound to bring this matter up as it concerned public interest, and to emphasise that Mustafa and the six activists should not have been arrested in the parliament compound.
Lim alleged he met with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib in his chambers to protest against the arrests and Ramli promised to look into the matter.
Lim sought to declare the restraining order null and void, another declaration that the IGP, through the acts of the police personnel, contravened the directive earlier passed by the Dewan Rakyat and also costs.
Meanwhile in parliament, Ramli said police had the power to enter parliament and arrest those they think were a security threat.
Ramli told the house at the end of question hour yesterday that parliament was gazetted as a protected area under the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act 1959.
“It is the responsibility of the police, specifically the Inspector-General of Police, to ensure its security,” he said.
Ramli said according to Section 4 (2) of the Act, a person in a protected area must comply with directions to regulate his movement and conduct — as given by an authorised officer i.e. policeman or parliament security personnel.
Ramli said special measures could be taken to control such person’s movements and conduct as deemed fit.
“The police can check and arrest a person who enters a protected area if he or she fails to comply with such directions or if they posed a threat. This is to ensure that security is maintained and proceedings are not disrupted.”
Despite this arrangement, Ramli assured members he would discuss with the police on procedures it could adopt in future in relation to detaining or arresting anyone.
The opposition had cried foul as it claimed that parliament was hallowed ground and the police had no business arresting anyone in it while the government said the police could do it as it involved house security.
Lim told Ramli that no parliament in the world allowed the police to arrest anyone in its premises or grounds.
“Parliament is a place of sanctity and cannot be encroached upon.
“There are far-reaching consequences as we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the world. Does this mean that MPs too will get arrested in parliament?”
Ramli replied some parliaments had their own set of procedures and conventions in relation to security and he would talk to the police about the procedures.
Meanwhile, in the lobby, Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) said he was shocked with the speaker’s view.
“He should have defended parliament and I regret he did not defend it,” he said.