8 November 2010
Malaysians for Beng Hock, a citizen’s initiative with the aim of pushing for justice for the late Teoh Beng Hock and a torture-free society, was in Gua Musang, Kelantan from 30 Oct 2010 to 31 Oct 2010 to collect signatures for a petition from Cabinet members and MPs participating at the Galas by-election.
The contents of the petition are: (1) Demand the Cabinet members and MPs to institute a Human Rights Act for protecting people’s human rights in the country; (2) Demand the Cabinet members and MPs to immediately set up the IPCMC to investigate those police officers involved in abuse of power; (3) Demand the Cabinet members and MPs to submit and approve a motion on setting up a Royal Commissions of Inquiry on the Teoh Beng Hock and R. Gunasegaran death in custody cases.
We were able to approach 2 deputy ministers and 2 MPs within a period of 20 hours. Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Heng Sai Kie turn down our request to meet her. Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operative and Consumerism Datuk Tan Lian Hoe refused to sign the petition. Only Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok endorsed the petition.
We also distributed brochures to Galas residents highlighting the issue of custodial deaths of Teoh Beng Hock, R. Gunasegaran, Francis Udayappan and others. The brochure also raised concerns of merciless shooting of Aminul Rasyid by police which justified the need of an independent police commission to investigate and curtail the abuse power by the police.
Unfortunately our mission was disrupted by the police at 2:15pm, 31 Oct 2010 at Kampung Baru Gua Musang. Superintendent Maszely Minhad stopped us from distributing brochures and told us that “You are arrested for violating Election Offence Act 4(a), all campaign materials will be seized as we received public complaints that the materials incite hatred and anger among the people”. Four out of eight members were arrested , namely, Ng Yap Hwa, Toh Chin Hong, Teoh Lee Lan and Soh Cher Hai allegedly for holding brochures at that material time. Supt. Maszely told us that we could have access to our lawyer after we arrive at IPD Gua Musang.
When we arrived at IPD Gua Musang, we were held at a TV corner of 1st Floor, Crime Investigation Department, and later transferred to a corner of a pantry at the same floor. We continued requesting for the presence of our lawyers Thomas Su and Wong Kah Woh as promised by Supt Maszely. The police officers told us “wait lah” or did not respond to our request, although we knew that our lawyers were waiting at the lobby of IPD Gua Musang. The police tried to obtain information from us without our lawyers. We refused to give cooperation in answering the questions without our lawyers present. The police officers insulted us by saying “Bodoh”, “tak tahu belajar di mana sekolah”, “kurang ajar”. Our right to legal representation was effectively denied for 2.5 hours.
There were about 15 police officers from Bukit Aman resting, chatting and having drink and food at the pantry. They did not take any statement from us immediately. They talked freely in the pantry but accused our conversation over the phone had ‘disturbed’ them.
The interrogation only started after the 2.5 hours. Shockingly, we found that the so-called ‘public complaint’ was a police report lodged by Supt Maszely himself at about 2:15pm on the same day of the arrest. One of the accusation is the materials would be detrimental to racial relationship. We cannot understand that why an issue that cuts across racial lines and the fight for the fundamental rights of Malaysians could be ‘detrimental to racial relationship’? The Police need to provide an explanation.
We also want to put on record that one day before our arrest, one of our members; Soh Cher Hai was assaulted by MCA Gua Musang Division Secretary Zhang Jin Sen (vocal translation) at 8:30pm at MCA markas, Bandar Lama, Gua Musang. Soh Cher Hai was pushed to the ground while approaching Deputy Minister Heng Sai Kie for signing the petition. Heng witnessed the assault and walked away without hesitation.
A police report on this incident was lodged at the IPD Gua Musang on 30 October, 2010.
Points of Complaints
1. The police have clearly violated our freedom of expression on the issue of custodial deaths which is of public concern. The Election Offence Act 4(a)(1) states that:
“Any person……makes any statement with a view or a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will, discontent or hostility between persons of the same race or different races or of the same class or different classes of the population of Malaysia in order to induce any elector or voter to vote or refrain from voting at an election or to procure or endeavour to procure the election of any person shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit or to both such imprisonment and fine” is clearly
We hold that the content of the brochure and petition letter is factual, objective and for the well-being of all Malaysians, which in no way ‘promotes ill-will and hostility between races’. The police abused their power and wrongfully invoked the act to suppress our view and actions.
2. The police have clearly violated our right to legal representation which is protected under Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The insulting remarks by police officers show the police force acted unprofessionally and lacked sensitivity from a human rights perspective. This has been repeatedly raised since the release of the report of Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police in 2005
3. The assault committed by a political party representative has alarmed our society that the democratic right to lobby safely, is no more guaranteed. The uncivilized acts that is seemingly tolerated by the ruling government will inevitably lead to terrorizing and suppressing democratic movement in the country
- We demand the police drop the case immediately and do not charge the four with baseless accusation. Supt Maszely and his officers who lied and spewed insulting remarks must be reprimanded through appropriate disciplinary action.
- The incident and the abuse of power by the police, justifies our demand in the petition that a Human Rights Act needs to be enacted and enforced to stop further violations by the police. We request SUHAKAM to exert pressure on the current government to put the Human Rights Act in place
- The incident shows urgency of setting up the IPCMC to check abuse of power by the police. Currently, there is no structure or mechanism for the people to channel complaints with respect to the unprofessional ethics and misconduct on the part of the police. This has resulted in their power being unchecked. We request SUHAKAM to bring this issue to the Cabinet and Parliament as a matter of urgency.
- SUHAKAM must assert pressure on the Government to setup royal commissions of inquiry on the Teoh Beng Hock and R. Gunasegaran cases, as the court processes were widely seen as unjust and manipulated by certain parties such as MACC and Attorney-General Chamber.
- SUHAKAM must seriously look into the issue of ‘political violence’ because it could potentially dampen the democratic processes in the country and infringes the fundamental human rights of the people. We suggest SUHAKAM conducts educational program on human rights to promote awareness among members of political parties.
Chong Kok Siong
Malaysians for Beng Hock