CPO: Dispersal not during national anthem

Malaysiakini: Andrew Ong | Nov 10, 08 9:54am
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.”
He had been asked to comment on the arrest of 23 individuals, including a Malaysiakini videographer Syukri Mohamad and a Catholic priest, 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.
The vigil was nearing the end but riot police broke up the gathering while some 300 people were singing the national anthem with the intention of dispersing immediately after.
Following this, crowd members, including many senior citizens and women, were chased from the venue. Some of them suffered injuries while running away.
Asked why Syukri had detained when he was on duty, Khalid said “He was part of the illegal organisation.”
Khalid explained that a group wearing ‘Bersih’ and ‘RPK’ t-shirts had allegedly gathered illegally opposite the Amcorp Mall shopping centre.
“After repeated warnings by the police, the group was still degil (stubborn) and walked to a different area until 9.45pm when they gathered in front of MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council).
“They were asked to disperse and the police arrested a few people. Among them was (Selangor exco member) Ronnie Liu (right) and two state elected reps,” he said.
The two state reps were Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua and Kampung Tunku state assemblyperson Lau Weng San.
Khalid confirmed that Liu was arrested at the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters where he had gone to assist the detainees.
Fifth consecutive vigil
According to Khalid, a group had been gathering at the field opposite Amcorp Mall for four consecutive weeks and have not heeded police demands to apply for a permit.
“We have given them enough warnings,” he said.
Asked if the group had posed a danger to the public, Khalid replied “That doesn’t matter. The law says that a permit must be obtained.”
Asked if this amounted to double standards, since no action had been taken against pro-government groups such as those protesting against the appointment of a non-Malay to head PKNS (Selangor government investment arm).
Khalid denied this, and reiterated that the group had failed to heed demands to obtain a police permit for four weeks.
Previous candle-light vigils had been held by small groups of activists, many of whom were individuals who had attended Sunday mass. These were symbolic protests against the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Similar vigils have been held nationwide, especially in Penang, since blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin (left), Selangor state exco Teresa Kok (right) and journalist were detained under the ISA on Sept 12. Both have since been released.
Last night’s vigil saw the presence of Bersih activists, a pressure group for clean and fair elections, to commemorate the first anniversary of their mass rally on Nov 10 last year.