BERSIH 2.0 chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah, was detained in Langkon, Sabah on 29 October 2016, for distributing BERSIH 5 leaflets. She was taken in for questioning at Kota Marudu police station at 2.21pm, no one was allowed in with her. She was released on bail at 4.07pm.
The reason cited for Maria’s arrest was allegedly under Section 11 (2) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 for distributing leaflets.
The police had also threatened to arrest the residents of Langkon who took the leaflets and took down the details of those who received.
BERSIH 2.0 questions the actions of the police who will go so far as to arrest someone on a vague a reason as distributing leaflets. This is a targeted act of political intimidation against Maria and only goes to show that the authorities are grasping at straws in a vain attempt to stop the BERSIH movement.
Clearly, BERSIH has been doing an effective job in spreading our message that people in high places are acting out of desperation and resorting to more and more ludicrous displays of power and acts of intimidation.
Maria’s arrest in Sabah is the latest incident of authorities trying to stamp out voices of dissent, a component that is necessary in a healthy democratic society.
In a separate incident on 30 October 2016, the police prevented Charles Santiago from distributing BERSIH 5 leaflets in Klang, citing a violation in the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. They also threatened arrest. In Johor, the #KonvoiBERSIH5 was stopped on several occasions at four different police road blocks. It is becoming quite clear that the authorities are ramping up their efforts to hamper BERSIH 5 efforts but we will not be intimidated into stopping our activities.
BERSIH 2.0 also condemns the actions of the police who threatened to detain the residents of Langkon and took down the details of those who had taken the leaflet.
In a blatant abuse of power, the authorities first targeted companies and lawyers who support BERSIH and now they take aim at innocent individuals. This is the extent to which we have devolved from a free and democratic society, where honest citizens can be threatened with arrest for simply receiving a flyer.
BERSIH 2.0 remains committed to our calls for institutional reforms which includes: clean elections, a clean government, the strengthening of parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent, and the empowerment of Sabah and Sarawak.
If demanding for institutional reforms strikes fear in the country’s leadership, the BERSIH movement is needed now more than ever as a check and balance for a government that has flagrantly abused the laws of the country to their end.
We urge Malaysians to continue lending their support to BERSIH 2.0 and to join us on the streets for BERSIH 5 on 19 November.
Satukan tenaga, Malaysia baru.
Signed by BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee members