While many are in the dark about the real reason for the PSM 6’s detention, Bersih steering committee member Dr Toh Kin Woon postulates his own theory on why they are being held.
He said the PSM had been the most consistent party in recent years, articulating clearly its position on issues affecting the rakyat, especially the poor and marginalised groups.
It has taken principled and unyielding positions on a whole range of socio-economic issues, and its pro-people, pro-workers stand is clear, he said. This cannot be said of some of the other political parties, including even certain of the Pakatan parties.
No one is in any doubt over the PSM’s stand against GST, the US FTA agreement, the privatisation of hospitals, and the removal of subsidies for essential goods and services. The party has also campaigned for workers’ rights including calling for a minimum wage. Their clear pro-rakyat position against neo-liberal policies makes them a constant irritant to the government and associated corporate/Big Business interests.
As the global economy falters and as the local economy loses lustre, support for the PSM’s stand for its stand on these issues could gain momentum.
I cannot help but agree with Kin Woon’s analysis. After all, the PSM 6 were certainly not the prime movers behind the Bersih 2.0 rally; so that is unlikely to be the real reason for their detention. The prime movers of the 9 July rally were the Bersih coalition’s steering committee, comprising only civil society reps.
Kin Woon was speaking at a ‘Free the PSM 6’ forum organised by Suaram at the Caring Society complex in Penang last night in a room packed with 150 people. Aliran exco member Dr Prema Devaraj (Dr Jeyakumar’s sister) provided a moving personal insight on each of the PSM 6 while lawyer Clement Ong explained what the Emergency Ordinance was all about.
Those present broke out in loud applause when speakers said the only way to change the present situation was to vote out the BN.
The event was ably chaired by Amnesty’s International’s Nora Murat. Indeed, women were very much in the limelight at the forum last night. Kin Woon paid tribute to Ambiga and Maria Chin Abdullah for their courage in pushing the Bersih 2.0 agenda. Women lawyers such as Lim Kah Cheng, Agatha Foo and Karen Lai were the first lawyers to rally to the aid of the PSM 31 on the night of their arrest on Saturday, 25 June.
Speaking from the floor, Karen praised the Penang Legal Aid lawyers, many of them young adults, who were deployed to court and various police stations during the dates of the court hearings.
The next big dates for court hearings are 5 August (habeas corpus hearing for the PSM 6) and 10-14 October (Sessions Court hearings in Butterworth for the PSM 24).
In the latest development, PSM Central Committee member Rani Rasiah, who is Kumar’s wife, announced that he is believed to have commenced a hunger strike today.