A deputy minister from Warisan and an Amanah Youth leader have expressed opposing views over the arrests of eight youth activists during a Malaysia Day protest in Kota Kinabalu this morning.
The Malay Mail quoted Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman as saying that the rally, which saw the participation of some 100 protesters, was “unnecessary” as the government is open to facilitating a roundtable discussion on their demands.
“Why must they protest today? As part of a government-friendly party, he should have known to use the proper channel to air his grievances,” Azis (photo) said in reference to Sabah Amanah Youth chief Mohd Khairudin Daud, who was among the eight arrested.
“Write to us and we will facilitate a roundtable discussion. That is the way to do it.
“They need to discard this opposition mentality of protesting and taking to the streets,” the Warisan lawmaker was quoted as saying.
Amanah Youth, however, condemned the arrests.
Vice-chief Shazni Munir Mohd Ithnin said it's unacceptable and shameful that the arrests were done when the country is marking a momentous occasion.
“We urge for all the youths to be released immediately.
“The state and federal leaders should respect the voice and views of youths who are critical of the country’s policies and its future,” Shazni (photo) said in a statement.
Earlier today, the arrested protesters were taken to the Karamunsing police station in Kota Kinabalu. Malaysiakini understands that police finished recording their statements at around 2pm.
The Malay Mail quoted Sabah police commissioner Omar Mammah, who denied claims that his personnel had acted violently against the protesters, and instead said the group of about 100 people had refused to disperse when ordered to do so.
“What choice did we have? They refused to disperse. We were doing our job, but I wouldn’t call it violence,” he reportedly said.
Shazni, meanwhile, further cautioned Malaysia’s current leadership against mimicking the “arrogance” of their predecessors, who were often accused of cracking down on dissent.
“The #NewMalaysia must truly be a new Malaysia. Do not repeat the arrogant manner of the previous government,” he stressed.
Commenting on the Pandang Ke Sabah (Look Towards Sabah) rally, Shazni said Amanah welcomed the activists' demands for policy changes in the state, including in areas of poverty eradication, education, security and citizenship.