DAP demands their immediate release and calls for an independent inquiry to establish the causes why Sunday’s peaceful assembly in Kuala Lumpur turned unruly - whether the culprits were the demonstrators or police agent provocateurs.
There are very strong and powerful evidence that Sunday’s peaceful assembly on the first anniversary of the arrest and "black-eye" of Anwar Ibrahim would have been a peaceful one, like the peaceful assemblies in the various states a day earlier, if the police had exercised restraint and not allowed police "agent provocateurs" to start clashes.
There should be ample evidence, whether eye-witness, photographic and even videotapes, to establish as to who were responsible for turning a peaceful assembly into a clash with the police.
If it was police "agent provocateurs" who were responsible for Sunday’s clashes, the police are doing a great injustice in arresting the political leaders and activists who did nothing to contribute to the clashes.
The police should be aware that it should not be made tools by its political masters in the battle with Opposition parties for the hearts and minds of Malaysians in the run-up to the coming general election, which is shaping up into the most important general election in the 42-year history with the possibility of ushering in far-reaching political changes.
The stakes are very high for the Barisan Nasional and in particular, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, but these are issues which are no concern of the police, which should limit its role to the immediate task of upholding law and order and the larger national goal of safeguarding and promoting a democratic way of life.
The peaceful assembly last Sunday on the occasion of the first anniversary of Anwar’s arrest and "black-eye" constituted no threat to law and order, and the police should not have allowed agent-provocateurs to turn it into clashes with the riot police. In allowing what would have been a peaceful assembly into clashes with the police, the police had in fact failed in its larger duty to the nation to promote a democratic way of life.
The police should realise that Malaysians as well as the international community are watching closely its handling of Sunday’s clashes, and its reputation would suffer another blow if it is not prepared to allow an independent inquiry to establish that the police had acted professionally and never allowed itself to be made used of as tools to serve the political agenda of its political masters - or if political activists and leaders are made scapegoats while police agent provocateurs who started the clashes are allowed to get away scot-free.