8 May 2009, SUARAM Penang
SUARAM Penang strongly condemns the arrests of activists over the past 2 days. One of these activists was Ng Eng Kiat who was arrested on 7 May, last night, at approximately 10pm after the Democracy First candlelight vigil in front of Dewan Sri Pinang.
The assembly was accused as an illegal one. However, there are several contradictions to this accusation by the police.
1. We informed the police about the assembly on the same day, but we did not receive any response or warning
2. The police were at the venue when the assembly began, but did not take any immediate action. Why did they wait for it to end?
3. The assembly that we organised was held smoothly and not against any public interest
An unlawful assembly is a gathering that is against public interest and creates public disorder. Throughout the 45 minutes of our vigil, however, we did no harm.
Nevertheless, the arrests happened obviously because the assembly was in disagreement with the BN government and because our demands are counter-beneficial to their recent anti-democratic actions in Perak as well as their long but dying battle to maintain rule over the Federal Government.
From these events, we witnessed 2 things:
1. The police have been used as a political tool of Barisan Nasional to crack down on dissent and detain activists
2. Barisan Nasional is still operating with the old mentality – that widespread dissent should be fought with a widespread crackdown
3. The irresponsible action of using the police force as a political tool has destroyed the Penang police force’s credibility, thus losing public confidence on the police force’s political neutrality.
We condemn the Barisan Nasional government for using repressive tools, funded by taxpayers money, for their selfish gains; and salute the brave Malaysians who have faced and risked arrest in the name of democracy.
We must remain strong in face of this nationwide crackdown; which we see as one of Barisan Nasional’s last dying breaths; and should not be distracted by the announced release of 13 ISA detainees, which is a late and inadequate PR move.