KL police vow to bust protest

A Bersih protest last year. Source: Wikimedia
Malaysia’s police have pledged to break up ongoing candlelit vigils demanding the release of Bersih movement’s Maria Chin Abdullah, who was demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said officers were aware of the organisers behind the vigils. The activist was detained on Friday under the 2012 Security Offences Act (known as Sosma) and can be held without trial for 28 days. The draconian legislation was originally justified as a terror-busting measure.
He said the protesters were contravening public assembly legislation.
“From now on, we will take stricter action against those breaking the laws on purpose, including those at night lighting up candles at Dataran Merdeka,” Khalid told the press. “Don’t think you don’t need to serve notice to light up candles. You are all breaching the Peaceful Assembly Act.”
“Do not try to challenge us. When we take action, you would moan. But until when can we let people to break our laws?”
The Kuala Lumpur authorities have closed Dataran Merdeka in the evenings for a week after the vigils held for Chin’s release grew to around 800.
Chin’s arrest had “nothing to do” with Saturday’s Bersih rally, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Channel NewsAsia.
His ministry was not involved with her arrest, he claimed. “The Home Ministry is only involved in policy matters. When it comes to operational matters on which offence is being committed and which act is being used, it’s up to the police,” he said.
“Her offence has got nothing to do with Bersih 5, the demonstration itself, but it’s got to do with the police report that was filed at a police station in the capital.”
Jazlan dismissed claims that Chin had been subjected to inhumane treatment while under detention. “She is not being given unfair treatment, she is being given treatment which is equal to other suspects,” the minister said.
She had “round-the-clock” medical care while her cell was “clean and habitable in accordance with international standards”.
Chin is apparently being investigated over activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.
On Wednesday, more than 200 female protesters walked on Parliament House and an online petition, “Free Maria Chin”, has received more than 40,000 signature0s so far.