Bersih activist detained in Penang over rally posters
KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Suaram intern Tan Hong Kai is being detained by the police in Penang for trespassing into Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) early this morning to put up posters promoting Bersih 3.0’s April 28 rally in the capital city.
Penang Suaram co-ordinator Lee Hui Fei, 24, told The Malaysian Insider the 21-year-old volunteer worker was caught putting up posters of the upcoming street protest by a campus security guard at about 2.30am and taken to the nearby Sungai Nibong police station only at about 4.15am.
Lee said that Tan, from Selangor, had entered the campus to put up the posters at the request of friends who are USM students.
Suaram representatives rushed to the police station after receiving a call from the Han Chiang College graduate early this morning only to be told he had been moved to the district police headquarters in Jalan Pattani at 9.30am and yet to be released.
She said the police recorded Tan’s statement at about 6.30am but have not informed Suaram’s representatives if the youth is to be charged for an offence.
“Our lawyer contacted the IO (investigating officer) and was informed Hong Kai is being detained for trespassing into USM. But we are not sure [if he will be charged] because the police have not told us anything including if he is to be remanded or bailed,” Lee told The Malaysian Insider over the phone.
“Hong Kai is the first to be taken under Bersih 3.0 and we are worried that this is another crackdown for Bersih 3.0, like in Bersih 2.0 last year,” she said.
Last year, the police had clamped down on several civil rights activists ahead of the high-profile electoral watchdog’s July 9 mammoth rally highlighting pervasive electoral flaws.
Over 30 people, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, were arrested and initially charged with waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The charges were later dropped.
The IO, identified only as “Encik Yusmah”, told The Malaysian Insider he was not authorised to make any comment on the matter and referred it to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief for the northeast district.
However, the CID chief could not be reached for comment.
Suaram executive director E. Nalini denounced the police for arresting Tan and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
“Malaysia has already an atrocious international record on democracy and human rights and it should not join the ranks of rogue countries universally regarded as most notorious and infamous for their reckless disregard for the most basic human rights - human dignity and life,” she said in a statement today.