Opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat in Sarawak has condemned the police for arresting and detaining Sarawak PKR Youth secretary Zuhiadah Suboh on arrival at the Miri Airport on Monday.
The 38-year-old aspiring politician was ordered yesterday by the magistrate’s court to be remanded for three days for an alleged offence under Section 47 of the Societies Act 1966 for promoting the Bersih 2.0 rally by wearing a yellow T-shirt printed with the words ‘Bersih 2.0’.
Piasau assemblyperson Ling Sie Kiong, who is also Zuhiadah’s counsel, questioned the need to apply for a three-day remand order from the court.
“I believe that the police here have the capability and efficiency to complete their investigation.
“With respect to my client, she was arrested at 1.45pm (Monday) and the police have had ample time to carry out an investigation,” he told reporters today.
Ling felt that a further remand was not necessary and the grounds stated by the police were inadequate and standardised investigation grounds.
“We are disappointed by the three days (remand) granted by the court and we feel that the BN government is using the police to deter the people from the planned rally on Saturday,” he added.
According to Ling, the police had lately arrested many people but released them immediately after their statements had been recorded.
“Now they are detaining us as the date gets closer. We are very disappointed over this and we know that the police have been pressured by the authorities, which we understand,” he said.
PKR Women’s wing national vice-head Voon Shiak Ni called on the police to stop harassing civil society members.
She said the police should release those members of civil societies and opposition members from detention, including Zuhiadah.
“Despite the fact that Bersih 2.0 agreed to hold a rally inside a stadium on Saturday, the police are still continuing with their crackdown,” Voon said.
“Therefore, the PKR Women’s wing members in Sarawak call on the police and government to stop the crackdown on Bersih-related activities from today onwards,” she said.
Sarawak PKR Youth publicity chief Leslley Kalom, meanwhile, said the harder the crackdown, the louder the cry for democratic reforms.
“It is not the people, but the government and its use of strong-arm tactics that is giving the country a negative image,” Kalom said
Former Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Salleh Jafaruddin criticised the Home Ministry for prematurely declaring the proposed march on Saturday as unlawful on the premises that Bersih, a non-registered entity, was illegal and had the potential to bring about anarchy.
“The calculation may be objective from one angle, but the unfounded fear based on an act of preconceived desperation is illogically untenable,” he said.
“The uncompromising decision has attracted positive and negative public comments and criticisms.
“More conciliatary attitudes have been candidly expressed by the prime minister who agreed for a peaceful rally to be held in a selected stadium, but the effects of selective arrests by the police have invariably reflected an internally conflicting policy taken by and between the opposing political arms of governments and the executive,” he said.
Salleh, a former deputy education minister, said the arbitrary arrests made by the police, even against those wearing yellow T-shirts, was counter-productive.
‘Illogical and undemocratic’
“For example a lady was arrested in Miri Airport because she wore a yellow shirt,” he said, adding that such an arrest was illogical and undemocratic.
“One of my friends told me yesterday that he was praying at the Miri Mosque last Friday in yellow baju Melayu was also unnecessarily questioned by a young West Malaysian Special Branch officer.
“This is abhorrent to say the least, as if the country is governed under a police state. We hope the prime minister is able to see to it that such incidents must not be allowed to go on unchecked.
“Sarawakians, as all of us know, are peace-loving people and would do not easily be hoodwinked by undesirable elements,” he said, adding that even during the Brunei Rebellion in the 1960s, no Sarawakian was involved in spite of the fact then that they were fighting the colonial regime.
“Those directly involved were the hard-core communists.
“For the general information of the public, Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud loves to wear yellow colour shirts.
“Will the authorities also stop him from using the same coloured outfits?” he asked, adding that it was Taib’s belief and right to chose the colour of his choice.
Salleh said wearing a yellow T-shirt even at this juncture was not a test of disloyalty or an anti-establishment act.
“We must not too obsessed with such a stupidly ridiculous idea,” he said.