As expected, charges were levelled against the PSM 6 this morning, but what caught the attention of the packed courtroom in Butterworth was the indomitable spirit displayed by the six.
Far from being crushed by the latest obstacle to their work, the six and their supporters vowed to redouble their commitment to their work. They seemed genuinely awed by the level of support their cause had received from the public locally and even internationally.
Speaking outside court, Dr Jeyakumar said the authorities are shooting themselves in the foot by taking the latest course of action. “By their actions, they have given us more publicity in one month than we could ever have hoped to achieve in four years – not that we are enjoying this ordeal,” said Kumar.
Evidence of this could be seen in the way a horde of reporters mobbed the six, their cameras flashing and pens scribbling down every word uttered. Little known political activists had been transformed into household names.
Bail of RM8000 had to be posted for each of the six – just like the other PSM 24. Bailers had to go to a bank nearby and obtain fixed deposit certificates – which were then lodged in court.
To recap, 31 people were on the bus that was stopped on that fateful afternoon of 25 July near the Sungai Dua toll plaza. The co-driver was released. The remaining 30 were detained included the bus driver and his son. And out of the 30 detained, three were below 18 and were accompanying their fathers.
Once again, lawyers C V Prabhakaran, Agatha Foo, Karen Lai and other legal aid lawyers were present to assist the six.
After the morning’s proceedings, a mysterious well-wisher treated the crowd to economy rice at a nearby restaurant – just another example of how so many people have reached out to these unsung political activists in their moment of need.
The case proper for all 30 of them will be heard on 10-14 October.
As an interesting aside, the Butterworth Court office has an unusual feature: almost everything is neatly and prominently labelled, even the switches on the wall (labelled ‘Suis’) and the computer mouse (“Tetikus”). There’s also red sticky tape on the ground to indicate where the tables, chairs and even the waste-paper basket should be located.