9.00pm – Five of the activists are released. But Suaram’s Teh Chun Hong and Lau Shu Shi, who is also Penang coordinator of the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI), are still being held. Shu Shi in particular has been actively involved in organising a number of well-attended forums after the 8 March general election. Both are expected to be produced in court in Penang tomorrow morning for possible extension of remand. This reflects badly on the BN federal government’s stance on basic rights and is not likely to win it new friends. Malaysians are not going to be impressed.
7.00pm – Blog reader Kah Seng reports:
MP Liew Chin Tong (Tg Bungah, Bukit Bendera, DAP) was reported there in the afternoon. You reported PKR DUN Ravi was also there.
I was a busy body there from 5pm to 7pm. The police handling was very slow. Went in afternoon, and still taking statements around 7pm. Efficiency? Cepat, cekap, whatever that motto that keeps changing?
Police seemed to be consciously aiming at photo and video takers. Ong was reported to be taking photo when arrested. Satish also said to be following the police with a camera around Gurney Plaza when arrested. Others taking phone video at the police HQ were hassled.
Is the police afraid of multi-racial sympathy toward the ISA detainees?
5.30pm – Three more Hindraf activists or supporters are also said to be held by police: Vimal, Hindraf activist Selvam and press freedom activist Stanley, who had earlier campaigned for a boycott of The Star. This brings the total to seven detained.
3.15pm – About 10-15 people are at the police station. B K Ong, Satish, Suaram Penang coordinator Lau Shu Shi and Suaram secretariat member Teh Chun Ong are being detained. Lawyer Darshan Singh is said to be around.
Teh was taken away in handcuffs after he had used his camera at the station while Shu Shi is now being held in the hall of the police station, guarded by policewomen. When Shu Shi tried to resist upon seeing the police handcuffing her colleague Teh, the policewoman told her not to struggle as she (the policewoman) was pregnant. Shu Shi is not sure if she is under arrest but her IC has been taken away and she is being confined to the hall. B K Ong is believed to be somewhere upstairs in the station.
2.00pm – Penang-based Ong Boon Keong, better known as B K Ong, and blogger Satish were detained around noon today after participating in an hour-long demonstration said to be organised by Hindraf to raise awareness of ISA detainee Uthayakumar’s medical condition. They were rallying in support of his attempts to seek further medical attention at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in KL.
The two were among 30-50 demonstrators who gathered along Gurney Drive outside Gurney Plaza for about an hour, while some of them were said to have attempted to enter the mall.
Police and FRU personnel were at the scene. It is not immediately known what circumstances led to the two being held.
A similar demonstration was held at the Prai Megamall on the mainland.
Ong, who runs the Penang Watch website, and Satish are now being held at the Patani Road police station. Supporters are waiting in the hall downstairs while Penang State Assembly member Ravi from PKR is now at the scene. I had only met B K Ong at a forum in Penang last night when we were both on the same panel at a Suaram forum discussing the role of Public Service Media and how it can be strengthened.
We also critiqued the Pakatan Rakyat’s plans to set up its own newspaper for five states and discussed whether this was a good move.
Ong felt that steps should be taken to make it more independent than what was being planned.
For my part, I felt that any attempt to set up a state government-backed newspaper would run into problems as it would suffer from credibility issues as a result of public perception of it being backed by the state – especially if editors and key staff are appointed by the party. Such journalism would serve the interests of political masters rather than the public.
Good journalism should challenge and critique oppressive power structures. And it would be difficult to do that if a newspaper is funded or owned by the state or if its editors and key staff were appointed by political parties. Surely, that would compromise its editorial independence and journalistic integrity.