Seven opposition leaders and activists, namely PKN Vice Chairman Tian Chua, PKN Youth leader Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, former private secretary to Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali, PKN Sabah Youth chief Dr. Badrul Amin Baharom, PAS Central Committee member, Dr. Hatta Ramli, PRM Legal Adviser Sivarasa Rasiah and former student leader Hishamuddin Rais were charged under Section 27(5) of the Police Act for an unlawful assembly at the grounds of the national mosque last Sunday, a charge which on conviction would entail a minimum mandatory fine of RM2,000.
All the seven had been remanded in the Dang Wangi Police station lock-up for five or six days since their arrest.
Yesterday, the police released pictures of 37 persons wanted in connection with the September 19 demonstration at the national mosque.
A day earlier, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai said the police was looking for five Keadilan members, namely PKN information chief Ruslan Kassim, PKN Youth vice-chief Mustapha Kamil Ayub, Perak Keadilan information chief Hanafiah Man and Keadilan youth officials Lokman Noor Adam and N. Gopalakrishnan. Norian advised the five to turn themselves in to enable police to record their statements.
I have no doubt that the 37 persons the police announced yesterday and the five Keadilan leaders Norian announced a day earlier would be prepared to co-operate with the police in its investigations, but the Inspector-General of Police should give a public assurance that they would not be humiliated and remanded in the police lock-ups.
There is in fact no reason why the Tien Chua, Ezam, Azmin, Badrul, Hatta, Sivarasa and Hishamuddin should be remanded in the police lock-up for five to six days, as they would have given full co-operation to the police.
When a person is remanded in a police lock-up, he is stripped of his human dignity as he is not treated as a human being - and to send political leaders and activists to police lock-ups when they would have fully co-operated with police investigations, smacks of vengeful action and even abuse of power.
The former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, did not have to spend a day in the police lock-up although he has been charged with assaulting a blind-folded and handcuffed Anwar Ibrahim in the Bukit Aman lock-up to an inch of his life, singly causing the greatest damage to Malaysia’s national and international reputation in this decade! In fact, the trial of Rahim Noor has not been held as compared to Anwar Ibrahim, who is now undergoing his second trial!
Can Norian explain why opposition leaders and activists should be remanded in police lock-ups when they are prepared at any time to co-operate with police investigations?
This is another area which would further undermine public confidence in the independence, professionalism and integrity of the police unless a satisfactory public explanation could be given by the Inspector-General of Police.