5 'phantom' buses stopped, MP and sons arrested

Kuek Ser Kuang Keng & Athi Veeranggan | Aug 26, 08 (Malaysiakini)
Three buses – one of which was filled with passengers – have been escorted to a police station in Permatang Pauh after PKR supporters believe they were used to ferry phantom voters.
The three buses and the passengers are now at the Seberang Jaya police station while PKR leader N Gobalakrishnan, who is also Padang Serai parliamentarian, lodges a police report on his party’s suspicions.
And at about 5.30pm, two more buses suspected of carrying phantom voters, were escorted into the police station.
Gobalakrishnan told Malaysiakini that he was informed of six buses allegedly carrying phantom voters would be coming into Permatang Pauh.
Upon a quick inspection, PKR supporters found two empty buses at 2pm parked along the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway, under the watch of some police personnel.
The PKR supporters were then told by the police officers that the buses were waiting for voters to return from voting.
Gobalakrishnan had then insisted that the buses were taken to a police station pending a police report.
Cops ‘too busy’ to accept report
And on the way to the police station, the PKR group found another bus entering Permatang Pauh. This third bus was filled with passengers.
Gobalakrishnan had also wanted this bus too to be taken to the police station, along with its passengers.
It was learnt from one of the drivers that the buses were from Malacca.
The first three buses had registration numbers from Malacca, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur, and one was registered to an address in Malacca Umno building.
When Malaysiakini spoke to some of the passengers from the buses which were ‘caught’, they said that they were from Bukit Katil, Malacca and were here to support the BN candidate Arif Shah Omar Shah.
They are angry for being detained and accused of being phantom voters. The passengers were wearing white BN T-shirts and caps.
A team of riot police and a water-cannon truck have been deployed to the police station.
Gobalakrishnan and PKR secretary-general Sallehuddin Hashim went into the police station to lodge a report but came out 30 minutes empty-handed.
Gobalakrishnan told a crowd of 50 party supporters outside the building that the police were too busy to take their report. He said he would try again soon.
Gobala and sons arrested
And in a dramatic turn of events, when Gobalakrishnan went back into the police station, the MP and his two sons were arrested for “stopping the buses”.
His sons – Arvind, 20, and Pravin, 23 – were also allegedly roughed up by the police prior to their arrest.
Penang police chief Ayob Yaakob said Gobalakrishnan, his two sons and a personal aide were arrested for “stopping the buses”, which he said was “a criminal offence chargeable under the Penal Code”.
Gobalakrishnan was later taken for medical check-up at the Seberang Jaya public hospital and locked up in Seberang Perai Tengah district police headquarters in Bandar Baru Perda.
In the melee with the police, Arvind and Praveen were floored and Gobalakrishnan’s spectacles flung out from his face as police punched and kicked the four in full view of the media, PKR supporters and curious on-lookers.
They were then dragged away to the police station.
Upon seeing this, an agitated R Vasanthi, Gobalakrishnan’s wife, started to question the police on reasons behind their arrest.
At the time, a police personnel, just named as Ramli, wearing a riot police uniform hit her head with a baton.
The police brutality sparked a protest by some 50 PKR supporters shouting ‘police brutality’ and ‘reformasi.’
However, they fled the scene when riot police started to charge on them. Fortunately no one was injured as all escaped.
As for the passengers from the bus, all of whom were from Malacca, the arrival of the state’s Chief Minister Ali Rustam managed to get them freed at 7.30pm.