Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Posts Tagged ‘Ginie Lim

Bersih’s Memorandum Delivery

Police today stopped polls reform group Bersih from holding a press conference in front of Istana Negara and in the process arrested PKR’s Information Chief Tian Chua. Also arrested was a PAS member identified as Jalaluddin Abdul Manap.The police had maintained a close watch on the group and moved in as soon as Bersih called for a press conference after submitting their memorandum at about 3pm.Tian Chua was arrested when he tried to prevent the police from confiscating a Bersih banner while Jalaluddin was arrested after he ignored a police warning to stop distributing leaflets calling the EC chairperson ‘a liar’.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 15th February 2008 (link)

Three members from the poll reform group Coalition For Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) were released unconditionally today.

When contacted, their lawyer Amer Hamzah said no reasons were given for their unconditional release.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 18th February 2008 (link)

Bersih went to the palace on 16th February 2008 to hand over a memorandum/protest note (link) to the King, and as expected some token arrests were made. What bothers me is how well everything seemed to progress at first.

  1. First group arrives, police and press present
  2. Second group arrives (including Tian Chua and Irene Fernandez) but police refused to allow them to proceed to the gate where the others were
  3. Police limited 4 Bersih members to p2roceed to the gate to hand over their memorandum
  4. Some Bersih members held up a Bersih banner
  5. Immediately after the memorandum was handed over, Bersih decides to hold a press conference despite warnings by the police not to
  6. Police arrest Tian Chua after he tried to prevent police from confiscating a Bersih banner
  7. Police arrest Jalaluddin Abdul Manap after he refused to stop distributing leaflets

The moment Bersih held up a protest banner, it stopped being a ‘hand over of memorandum’ and became a protest/demonstration. The moment they called for a press conference outside the Istana gate, the message heard by the police was, “Lets have an illegal gathering to answer questions”. It makes me wonder whether Bersih members purposely give the police an excuse to arrest them solely to generate more publicity. They must realise that the police are watching their every move, waiting to find a legal basis for arrest.

Since you can’t hold press conferences wherever you feel like it, what is wrong with walking back to your car/bus stop/LRT and answering questions asked by the reporters hounding you? That’s not an illegal gathering. In fact after being foiled by the police, Bersih held a press conference at PAS headquarters in town, which went perfectly well. I take that as proof that a press conference outside the palace gates was wholly unnecessary.

Why was the banner needed if all that was planned was merely a memorandum handover? Sigh.

It got worse at the Brickfields police station that night. Ginie Lim (part of PKR’s Information Bureau) was arrested for taking photos of the arresting officer. I have heard that it is illegal to take photos inside a police station, for obvious security reasons(sorry I don’t know the relevant Act offhand), so its not unexpected.

However it goes to show the mindset of our people now, where the police are viewed as criminals whose name, badge number and photograph need to be taken and kept on record. So that in the event that something happens to Tian Chua, at least Ginie would have that information. I’m pointing this out because its easy to just label Ginie a ‘crazy rebel’ instead of taking the time to understand.

The problem that I see here is that persons like Tian Chua and Ginie Lim are too important to the inner workings of their party to take part in such events especially when elections are literally 3 weeks away. This is when the Information Bureau should be busiest (unless PKR has a different group of people handling information distribution *shrugs*).

So I sincerely hope they do not participate in such events and leave themselves open to arrest in future. I do not agree with the actions police took, but getting arrested so close to elections really does no good.

The three of them were held in remand until 18th February, whereupon they were released unconditionally. A clear case of abuse of power by the police, that (unsurprisingly) merely got a footnote in the papers. I wonder whether the police will start arresting more Opposition people in the weeks to come 

Written by ak57

February 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm