Malaysia

Hisham defends Bersih arrests, says activists had ulterior motives

The home minister said today his orders to the police were to “take action to maintain peace and security.” — file picThe home minister said today his orders to the police were to “take action to maintain peace and security.” — file pic

HULU SELANGOR, June 26 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has defended the arrest of 30 Bersih activists in Penang under Section 122 of the Penal Code, saying today there were reasons to justify the police action.

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.”

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.

“I have not received a detailed report. But preliminary reports show that the movement, which was said to be mainly a “peaceful” demonstration, (had) other agendas (in mind).

“I believe in facts. I will wait for a further report, but my orders to the police from the start was follow the law, take action to maintain peace and security,” he told reporters after opening the Hulu Selangor Umno division meeting here.

He did not elaborate on the reasons for the arrests, and stressed that it was the police who made the arrests and not him as he did not have the power to do so.

“It’s not me who arrested them. The police decide,” he said, adding that the public should look at the incident from a “wider perspective.”

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.

The law was used to prosecute militant terrorist group Al Ma’unah who were involved in an audacious arms heist at an army camp and a tense standoff in the jungles of Perak in 2000.

Section 122 of the Penal Code states: “Whoever collects or attempts to collect men, arms or ammunition, or otherwise prepares to wage war with the intention of either waging or being prepared to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any of the Rulers or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri or abets the waging or the preparation of such war, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

“It’s not as straightforward as the points (put forth) by Bersih ... Why do you need to have roadshows (throughout) the country?” Hishamuddin said.

The government has said it will not issue permits for Bersih’s planned rally on July 9 that demands free and fair elections.

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