The 31 PSM activists, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, held yesterday at the Kepala Batas District Police Headquarters spent the night in police lock-ups. Over in Johor, some 30 PSM activists were released from the Ledang Police Station in Tangkak at around 4.00am.
Four lawyers from Penang Island – Lim Kah Cheng, Agatha Foo, Karen Lai and T Rajamoorthy – tried in vain to seek the release of those held in Kepala Batas.
Outside the station, a crowd of about 20 staged an impromptu candlelight vigil and chanted “Hidup hidup, hidup rakyat! Bebas bebas, bebas tahanan!” They also rattled water bottles with pebbles inside. Among those in the crowd were activists from Suaram, Aliran, Pas, PKR and JIM as well as an MPSP councillor from DAP. Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng, affiliated to Kita, also turned up later.
Police responded by beaming a spotlight at the crowd and taking numerous photographs. At one point, police lost patience and dozens marched out to move in on the demonstrators. The crowd quickly dispersed but later returned to keep vigil outside the station. By then, a police light strike force unit had taken up position outside the entrance to the police station.
The male detainees shouted “Hidup perjuangan!” as they were led to trucks before being driven off to police lock-ups in Butterworth and Sungai Dua just before 3.00am while the women activists spent the night in the Kepala Batas Police Station. Word from the lawyers last night is that the police are looking at the sedition angle in their investigations.
Lawyers expressed frustration at being hindered from meeting the detainees. The police at the guardhouse had delayed or blocked them from entering the station. It was only when the lawyers said they wanted to lodge reports against the police for blocking their access to the detainees that they were allowed into the station to make those reports.
This morning the lawyers are still trying to see their clients. Kah Cheng tried unsuccessfully to visit those held in Butterworth. She is now waiting in Kepala Batas.
A remand hearing is expected to be held at the Butterworth Magistrates’ Court at 2.30pm. A team of lawyers led by criminal lawyer Chandra Segaran, along with Karen Lai, Agatha Foo, Sukhindarpal Singh and Benjamin Sathyanandam, is expected to be present.
The activists were on a whistle-stop road-show in the northern region as part of their “Udalah, bersaralah BN” campaign. They were detained in the afternoon at the Sungai Dua toll plaza before they could reach their last stop in Penang Island. The bus they were travelling in, ironically bearing a 1Malaysia logo in front, was also taken to the Kepala Batas Police Station.