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Really, are the police so free?

S Arutchelvan
Published:

COMMENT | This afternoon the police will be recording a Section 112 Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) statement from me under Section 9 (5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for organising/participating in an International Habitat Day gathering at Parliament on Oct 8, 2019.

This International Habitat Day is a yearly event like May Day and Earth Day. The event went well. We were escorted by the police who assisted in traffic control from the National Monument Tugu up to Parliament road.

A few MPs received us and a delegation went in to submit a memorandum to the representative of the minister of housing and local government. There were the usual chanting, picket line, photo taking and speeches. The atmosphere was nice.

This was not an ambush or a flash mob outside Parliament building. We had submitted to the police the usual 10 days’ notification. We had discussions with the police on the route we were going to walk, etc. Everything ended well and no untoward incident happened.

Sadly there was not much coverage by the local media about the Habitat Day protest outside Parliament. It seems these days protests outside Parliament are a norm.

Then, why are the police calling me in for investigation? Isn’t this a waste of police time and resources? If the report against me was lodged by the public, I do understand if the police want to investigate, but here the report was lodged by the police themselves to trigger an investigation.

Most likely we won’t be charged, as has been the case for many other public assemblies, because Pakatan Harapan had pledged to do away with this provision. In their election pledge No 27, they said that they will do away with draconian laws, including amending such laws as the Public Assembly Act 2012.

In fact, when a police officer was recording my Section 112 statement on a public assembly event before this, he told me to ‘please hasten the abolishment’ of this because he thought it was a waste of time.

For one thing, if this is just a formality that the police must record statements, since the notification letter was applied under by name, then you are wrong. Because the ridiculousness does not end there. My lawyer Shashi Devan, as well as PSM secretary-general A Sivarajan (above), were informed that the police wanted to record a statement from another eight people, including members of the PSM Central Committee, PSM Youth leader, community leaders as well as a leader from the NGO Jerit.

Most of those who the police wanted to record statements from were either those who went in as part of the delegation or who spoke to the crowd. In short, the police have to lodge their own police report, then issue Section 111 of the CPC notices and then record statements from nine people for an event at which nothing untoward happened. So, do the police have so much of free time on their hands?

If you think, this is ridiculous, then let me highlight the issue of the public assembly, which was held three days after the Habitat Day gathering, also at Parliament and organised by the UTM-MJIIT undergraduates on Oct 11, 2019 (photo, below). Again, though there was some pushing around, etc, at the tail end of the event, once again overall there were no untoward incidents and no arrests.

Yet, here again, Tan Cheng Siong from UTM-MJIIT and Sharan Raj from PSM were issued Section 111 notices for their statements to be recorded, not from one police station but two. Both of them were contacted by the Sentul District police to record statements. They were also called by the Dang Wangi police to record statements on the same event on the same day. Now, police from two districts want to investigate the same people for one incident which happened on the same day. Here, yet again, the police lodged their own reports to do the investigation. Now again the police seem to be so free.

PSM has written a letter to the Kuala Lumpur CPO and copied it to the OCPDs of the two district police stations, asking them to coordinate their work, save resources and cut down the bureaucracy.

If one is to ask the police force why they are doing this, they will tell you that they either got instructions from above or it is a SOP. They will also agree with you that this is a waste of time and they would prefer fighting crime rather than doing all this unnecessary paper work. They will also tell you that, actually, they are not so free.

Now, in recent weeks, it seems the police are spending more time investigating activists or the whistleblowers, rather than suspected criminals. Yesterday we saw how the police called up Citizens Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (Caged) spokesperson Rama Ramanathan to the police headquarters to be investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act.

This was related to his blog article on Oct 20 on an incident involving the sister of activist Jufazli Shi Ahmad. Rather than investigating the incident and the critical matters raised by the article, the police decided to go for Rama (photo) who, incidentally or coincidentally, had been writing lots of stuff on the need for an IPCMC. What was even worse was the police going to his apartment without a warrant to take away his laptop and phone, instead of getting him to surrender these during the investigation. Why such dramatics?

In yet another incident, the Kangar police lodged a report against Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suaram) CEO Sevan Doraisamy and later investigated him under Section 500 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). Sevan had held a press conference at Suhakam with family members and lawyer on an incident of wrongful arrest by the Kangar police on Sept 21.

Then we have Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy being summoned to Bukit Aman over an article published in the Malaysian Gazette on Sept 17 that questioned the police over a shooting incident near Rawang, where three men were shot dead.

In all the above three incidents, rather than investigating the larger issue or crime, there have been instances of misuse of police powers. The police have degraded themselves by lodging police reports against activists and then investigating them. Isn’t this all a waste of police time? Are the police so free?

It is a pity that the police force has to be burdened with this task. It’s a waste of police time. Yes, this article might get me yet another date with the police!


S ARUTCHELVAN is deputy chairperson pf Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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