Abolish ISA vigil: From Esplanade to Jelutong

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An impromptu anti-ISA vigil was held last night outside the Jelutong Police Station in Penang for a good half an hour after the one planned at the Speakers’ Square was disrupted.

1250: Shu Shi, who is now attached to women’s group Awam, has been charged under the Police Act in connection with an incident at a police station in Penang in 2008. The former Suaram Penang coordinator will have to appear in court on 16 August. Her NGO colleagues are now in the process of posting bail of RM500 for her.

1140: Activist Lau Shu Shi is still waiting in court with her lawyer. The other four arrested last night in Penang and released on police bail will have to turn up at the police station on 14 August to find out if charges will be pressed.

0200: Earlier last night, a group of pro-ISA rowdies infiltrated the crowd attending the planned vigil at the Esplanade leading to some scuffling and shoving.

But it was only those anti-ISA activists at the vigil who were arrested: Suaram Penang coordinator Jing Cheng, PSM’s Chon Kai, Pekerja Tanjung activist Kris Khaira and lawyer Darshan Singh were taken away in a truck to the Jelutong Police Station.

Despite repeated warnings to disperse, the crowd at the Esplanade stood their ground, until the cops finally felt that there had been one too many press conferences and stepped in to show they meant business. By then many had already dispersed while others had gone to Jelutong to lend support to those arrested.

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It was indeed ironic that the four were arrested at Speakers’ Square which is supposed to uphold freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. What happened last night defiled that hallowed spot.

About 30 activists and anti-ISA protesters, with a large contingent of media in tow, then turned up outside the Jelutong Police Station by 10.00pm. They held out a banner bearing the words “Mansuhkan ISA!” and chanted the same words. Many passing motorists honked in support.

Half an hour later, when Jelutong police figured out what was happening, they emerged from the station to give the activists five minutes to disperse. That prompted a couple of them to sing “We shall overcome”! A policeman behind one activist tried to blow out her candle from over her shoulder, while another plainclothes cop stomped on a candle at the edge of the road.

The activists and friends then dispersed to nearby coffee shops.

Meanwhile, lawyers Lim Kah Cheng (an MPPP councillor), Agatha Foo and Murali Karen worked hard to assist those arrested. Kah Cheng Murali, the Penang Bar Committee chairmanA fourth unidentified lawyer secured a promise from a senior police officer that the four would be released on police bail by midnight. (As an aside, it was interesting to see women lawyers at the forefront last night, negotiating with police in both Penang and PJ.)

Someone joked that the four would definitely be released as there were three lawyers and a priest inside the station to lend a hand!

Just around midnight, as the those arrested were about to be released, uniformed police entered the coffee shop where Lau Shu Shi, the former Suaram Penang coordinator who is now with Awam, was seated with friends and activists. A policewoman escorted her to the Jelutong Police Station.

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There, Shu Shi was served with a warrant of arrest in connection with a May 2008 offence under Section 19 of the Police Act. Shortly after, she was released but will have to appear in court at 8.30am today.

The police even took away Jing Cheng’s ISA T-shirt (as evidence?!). He emerged from the police station with a jacket borrowed from a friend.

Meanwhile, activist B K Ong reports on his encounter with the pro-ISA group:

I arrived at the vigil scheduled for 9.00pm some half an hour early. I noticed police blocking the entrances to the Esplanade. I walked towards the Esplanade field where there were already some scattered crowds. Before I could say `hello’ to a few familiar faces the crowd started retreating from the sea side, dogged by a few uniform police. When the crowd was pushed out of the field, the police stopped. So the crowd was milling around the edge of the field, just inside the walkway besides the main road. Then a group of fierce-looking and foul-mouthed people in their thirties or forties marched towards the scattered crowd. They don’t look like the anti-ISA civil society type. I could not resist taking a photo of them. That make them focus in my direction.

I pretended to sit down on a concrete fencing at the edge of the field, adjusting my camera. Some of the folks above spoke in Bahasa Malaysia and instigated each other to do something about me. Then one of them embolden himself and came to sit next to me. He pretended to speak into his hand phone but pushed his elbow till it touched my face. He was muttering ‘Mau cari pasal? Mau cari pasal?‘ He must have been trying to pick a fight with me as instigated by a few other voices from that fierce-looking crowd. I stood up and moved into the walkway slowly, avoiding the eye contact which could be interpreted as a sign of agreement to engage with him in the only way he wanted. Then the guy next to me declared his victory by laughing with his friends. They make even more instigation e.g. to pull off my beard.

Before the guy could come closer to me a police personnel marched in to shout at the folks above to ask them to disperse. The police only asked them not to force the police to make arrests – which was in strong contrast to the police’s preemptive arrests of three organisers of the peaceful anti-ISA candle light vigil earlier.

The group quickly crossed the road and assembled defiantly at a corner outside a building of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

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tunglang

What is the point in having a Speakers’ Square when no visible/legal protection is afforded to anyone willing (or should it be daring) to speak his mind on any issue under the sky. We are fooled into believing in a venue to express our sincere thoughts within our acts of decency and conscience. Now, it finally shows it’s flawed as not a viable, safe SPOT to say your piece of mind. The anti-ISA vigil’s fracas was a test of the state gomen’s readiness/abilities to tackle legal challenges, hooliganism and unwarranted arrests by the law enforcement agencies. Finally we are the… Read more »

Sean

The protection you wish for doesn’t exist anywhere, save perhaps for ‘Parliamentary Immunity’. If you stand at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, and say something that is against the law (such as an encouragement to commit a criminal act) you will likely attract the attention of the police. I just noticed from Wikipedia’s “Speakers’ Corner” article a picture of a signboard in Penang: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Penang_Speaker%27s_Square_-_Signboard.JPG Isn’t that ‘Article 10’ reference completely wrong? Article 10 doesn’t say anything like that, does it? I realise everyone hates a nit-picker, but aren’t the Penang State government leaving themselves open to being sued by… Read more »

tunglang

Article 10 is not absolute nor a total guarantee to freedom of speech, assembly and association (quite misleading). It is subject to ‘clauses’ for restrictions that the law can impose in the interest of national security as in the case of anti-ISA vigil. But it is also subjective as what can be seen happened that night. In the name of law and order, how do you dispute that? Then the Speakers’ Corner signboard should add: “Subject to Restrictions and Speakers To Take Personal Responsibility” at the end of the line. Otherwise, it can lead to problems later on when conflict… Read more »

Sean

“is guaranteed” is a bit of an optimistic rendering of “is qualified by so many exceptions in the Constitution that it doesn’t really offer much at all”, isn’t it?

Is your reading of Article 10 that your rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association are ‘guaranteed’? If MPPP ‘guarantees’ it and the Constitution does not, is there a prospect of MPPP being held liable if someone is prosecuted for something they say at Speakers’ Square?

I lv Pg

Shouldn’t the state govt lend the support to those detainees afterall the public should be protected while delivering speeches at speaker’s square? If people are not protected, what’s the significance of the speaker’s square? So freedom of speech is at the mercy of some morons???

Jacqueline F

I wonder if stopping peaceful demonstrations is one way of improving the KPIs for the police force? There are so many criminal activites in our cities and the police should be focusing on creating safe cities by reducing crime instead of arresting peace-loving citizens.
Jackie

kah cheng

just a correction.i did not secure a promise from a senior officer for their release by midnite. that was done by Murali, the Penang Bar Committee chairman who came to assist. I only succeeded in negotiating to deliver drinking water to the detainees -not even to be present with them when their statements were being taken. We were kept outside the police gate that was closed! People’s rights to legal representation upon arrest were denied as is often the case in m’sia. this has to be changed.
kah cheng

Serious Shepherd

Pro-ISA demo participants are definitely pro on doing CIA’s job of arresting ‘militants’…

And they have been telling the Malays that Anwar is the ejen CIA.

And they also have been (allegedly) telling the Malays that ISA is needed to defend Islam.

felicia

C4 can………candle cannot! apa macam, Home Minister???

fab4

Wow, these candles are getting dangerous. Can we expect a (ruling) soon?

CSK

BK Ong,
Those groups of Pro-ISA supporters. Who are they?. The scum of the society I say. You cannot hold a decent conversation with them. There are too many of this same kind in parliament too. Confronting them will result in something serious and if you do that you would have walked into a trap. You did well thank you.

tunglang

BK Ong, you are a brave gentleman with self control, common sense, humility, God fearing, patience and most importantly earn the peace-loving Rakyat’s great respect for you.

In this respect you stand tall above these … cowards…

PandanKia

Many forgot that the BN is actually voted into power.

Why blame BN?
Blame those who voted for them.
Blame those who have yet to register as voters.
Blame those who did not vote too.

Show them who is the boss come this GE!

kee

Are we to blame Cheap Minister, Guan Eng because under him/DAP/PR, we have speaker’s corner, so the arrest of the activists???

Gerakan sore losers must be very happy. Sad !!!

tunglang

Gerakan K forewarned of the 2nd big thing to happened (NB: not in his exact written words) a week ago. This is it!

So Gerakan K, you must be exceedingly happy and satirically glad for it?

Gerakan K

Selangor DAP alleged scandal more appropriate.

tunglang

Ooops! Sorry, Gerakan K.

wandereAUS

What is the point of harping and respecting with the laws of the land, when we are dealing with shameless “OUTLAWS”!
Who were the culprits who disrespected the Federal and State constitutions, who used the COURTS to shield their …, if I have to review everything what these low lives did, my brain will rot! …..there is no need to be apologetic for these corrupted creeps!

Saujana

Street demonstrations in KL city centre and the burning of flags in front of foreign embassies by militants are allowed by the police. The holding of peaceful vigils and lighting of candles are prohibited. It is evident the police are protecting the interests of the ruling clique who are abusing the ISA to persecute and jail opponents of the regime and to repress the civil rights and liberties of the people. The BN-Umno regime has turned against the rakyat (and the) police (are used) to oppress the citizenry. The ruling clique and their cronies have not (whittled away the country’s… Read more »

Yang

Anil, Aren`t you afraid that you will be arrested for putting up this in your blog.
As we all now know now what kind of government Najib and UMNO is, that is to suppress whatever form of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Not only that, he is willing to suppress anybody who gets in his way to be the government. To continue to stay as PM he will condone the subservient of the judiciary and allowed the buying of corruptible. An example is Perak

wandereAUS

Long live the courageous rakyat of Malaysia, but nothing, will save these … from the racist party! Our day will come….
As for the blue uniform … and … “Red Guards” you have nothing to boast of your lowly acts when you took on soft targets!