KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — The arrest of 30 Bersih activists by police in Penang under Section 122 of the Penal Code is a clear form of police intimidation to frighten supporters of the July 9 rally, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
The Bersih 2.0 chairman accused the police of “deliberately overreacting” by arresting the activists under an “archaic provision.”
“I am utterly shocked by the manner in which these people have been arrested and the section under which they are apparently to be charged.
“This is a clear intimidation of the people involved. I think the police have deliberately overreacted by trying to intimidate people,” Ambiga told The Malaysian Insider.
The police said they are probing an alleged attempt by some Bersih activists to revive communism and are investigating 30 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jayakumar for “waging war against the Yang DiPertuan Agong.”
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has defended the arrests, saying today there were reasons to justify the police action.
Hishamuddin, who is the home minister, said that he had yet to be briefed in detail on the arrests, but stated that preliminary reports showed that the activists had “other agendas” in mind.
“This does not auger well for Malaysia who sits on the Human Rights Council … clearly designed to intimidate.
“There will be more clampdowns, and more arrests ... why only attack Bersih? What have we done? And such an archaic law should not be used today,” the former Bar Council chairman added.
Deputy Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said today that remand orders would be exercised in order to detain the 30 activists under Section 122 of the Penal Code.
Police have said they will not issue any permits for rallies on July 9 and have asked the organisers to come in for questioning tomorrow.
Death threats have also been made against Ambiga and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is organising a rally to support the Election Commission, which is the subject of Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections.