KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 ― Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, activist Haris Ibrahim and PAS’s Tamrin Ghafar were arrested for sedition today and brought to the Jinjang police station for questioning, according to reports.
Home Ministry officials also carted off over 1,000 copies of PAS-owned Malay newspaper Harakah from shops and several distribution centres in a separate sting today, as Putrajaya mounts an apparent crackdown against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters.
It is understood the trio were detained separately in an apparent police crackdown today after Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the new national police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar vowed to clamp down on those who threatened to take down an elected government through revolt.
This is the third police investigation into sedition since the May 5 general election.
“I was arrested, now in the police car, at Jalan Kuching, heading towards the Jinjang police station,” Tamrin, the son of former deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba, told The Malaysian Insider in phone call at 2pm today.
The Umno-turned-PAS member had earlier sent a text message saying, “Just 2 inform u I m being arrested by d police Bukit Aman. D police r waiting 4 me 2 finish my lunch at Chawan Bangsar. Pl inform others.”
The first was student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim who was charged with sedition in the Jalan Duta court complex this morning.
The 24-year-old pleaded not guilty and was released on a RM5,000 court bail with his trial set for a mention on July 2.
PKR’s Chua was picked up by authorities shortly after.
“I’ve been arrested at LCCT about 5min ago, just b4 the security check. Now in police vehicle being transported to Balai Polis Jinjang,” Chua posted on his Twitter account, @tianchua at about 12.24pm today.
“According to ASP Buba, I’m detained under Section 4(1) Sedition Act,” he added.
Haris was detained while lunching with friends in Segambut here after he had gone to the Duta Court Complex nearby earlier this morning to show support for Adam.
“Haris was arrested about 12.30pm while still eating in Segambut after returning from court in Jalan Duta. He was taken to the Jinjang police station,” his friend and fellow lunch mate Bernard Khoo told The Malaysian Insider.
“Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, his lawyer, is on the way to the police station,” he added.
Adam Adli had been arrested by the police at his home in Bangsar last Saturday before being taken to the same Jinjang police station where he had been held in remand until he was charged with attempting to topple the elected government through street protests. He was accused of uttering a seditious statement at a May 13 forum where he allegedly questioned the results of Election 2013 and called on Malaysians to take to the streets to boot Barisan Nasional (BN) from Putrajaya.
According to the charges read out this morning, his words had a seditious tendency and were aimed at rallying Malaysians to change the current government through undemocratic means.
His statement, in Malay: “Take my details, lodge a police report, because today, I would like to invite all those here today to gather and take to the streets to seize back our power! Can we do that? Can we do that? Can we do that? We do not have much time left, get ready, buy shoes, buy tracksuits, buy jeans, get ready to take to the streets because in a third world country like Malaysia, elections cannot topple a government.
“Only the people’s power can topple a government. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, this is the only opportunity we have.”
Charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948, the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris undergraduate faces a jail term of not less three years, or a fine of up to RM5,000 or both, if convicted.
Adam Adli, who came to court in a black T-shirt, was represented by lawyers Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, N. Surendran, Afiq M. Noor and Shamsul Iskandar Mat Akin.
Surendran told the court that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had already announced the abolition of the pre-independence Sedition Act, a preventive law often used to crack down on dissent against the government.
Sessions Court judge Norsharidah Awang, who presided over the matter this morning, said, however, that the law was still in force as the plan to repeal it was still in the early stages.
Yesterday, the police arrested 18, including four women, at a candlelight vigil held for Adam Adli outside the the Jinjang police station here. They have since been released.
Media reports say some 1,000 had gathered outside the police station, which was under tight security in anticipation of a continued night vigil since Adam Adli’s detention on Saturday.
Ahmad Zahid, who took over as the new home minister from Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, was reported by Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia last weekend as saying that the government would take stern action against those who intended to foment chaos on the streets.
Both Ahmad Zahid and the new Inspector-General of Police had been chided by opposition politicians of “playing politics” instead of working to curb crime in the wake of the May 5 polls.