After being swept away from outside Parliament House by police last night, a student group is determined to continue camping outside the Parliament, or at least outside the Kuala Lumpur Central Police Lock-up in Jinjang.
Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia secretary Nazrul Nazir told Malaysiakini that #Langkahsiswa will continue with its plan to camp outside Parliament if all 17 of their comrades arrested are released after the remand hearing this morning. Failing this, they will "occupy Jinjang" in solidarity with them.
"We will not stop our demands," Nazrul said in front of the barricaded compound near the lock-up complex as about 50 students, NGO members, politicians and members of the public stood in solidarity with the arrested students in Jinjang through the wee hours of this morning, while another group of students slept on cardboard boxes by the roadside.
Supporters and family members kept arriving until 4am today to ask the police to release those arrested and to stand in solidarity with them.
Among those who turned up were Gerakan Harapan Baru chief Mohamad Sabu and PKR vice-president Tian Chua. Several lawyers, among others PKR's Radzlan Jalal, also turned up after receiving news of the arrests.
Last night, 16 students and an activist were arrested by the police , on the second night of their sit-in protest outside Parliament, during which they demanded that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak resigns over his role in the 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion "donation" in his personal bank accounts.
The police cited the arrests under Section 124B of the Penal Code, on grounds that it is illegal to "demand the resignation of someone by street demonstrations".
DAP Youth chief regrets acts of violence by police
DAP Youth chief Teo Kok Seong, who was with the students when the arrests were made, expressed regret over the action of the police, which he said was "violent", especially after he had spoken to Sentul OCPD R Munusamy just before the police action.
"I negotiated with the OCPD twice. He promised that he will only 'invite' the students. However, I saw acts of violence during the arrest. The police did not seem to be aware that the students were converging peacefully.
"I hope the police and the government authorities will respect the right to assemble as guaranteed by the constitution," Teo told Malaysiakini .
Meanwhile Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad, who had planned to visit the students outside Parliament later last night, expressed his sadness over the arrests, saying the police action violated democracy.
"As we see, the freedom of students is being stifled in this country. Before this, the students who invited their lecturer and politicians to talk at the UIA (International Islamic University) were banned.
"Now, a peaceful demonstration outside Parliament gets them arrested. So, there is no more space for the students to express their concerns," Raja Kamarul Bahrin told Malaysiakini in front of the Jinjang central police lock-up.
Two UIA students, Hanif Mahpa and Afiqah Zulkifli, who were suspended earlier this month for organising a forum on the goods and services tax at their university in May, had invited PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli as one of the speakers.
DAP Selangor publicity head Ronnie Liu ( photo ), who was also present outside the Jinjang lock-up, highlighted bias on the part of the police, pointing out that no action was taken on an anti-Bersih and pro-Najib group, Bersih 4 Keamanan, for its protest in front of Sogo shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur yesterday afternoon.
This coalition of NGOs, headed by Umno Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunos, also held a martial arts demonstration and Jamal declared that that he has got 30,000 people in red shirts at hand if the yellow T-shirt-clad Bersih 4 supporters turned rowdy.
"The same day, a group of about 1,000 Bersih 4 Keamanan people in red shirts were allowed to assemble at Sogo. There were only 20 students who gathered outside Parliament. The police are not acting neutrally," Liu told Malaysiakini .
"The police force should be preserving peace and social order and not be a tool for the political forces. Otherwise, the police will lose the people's trust," he added.
The remand hearing on the arrest of the 17 will be held at the Jinjang police lock-up complex at 10am today. Lawyers from the group Lawyers for Liberty and Radzlan are all prepared to help the students.