Sarawak PKR Youth secretary Zulhaidah Suboh pleaded not guilty at the Miri Magistrate's Court today to two charges under Section 47 of the Societies Act 1966 pertaining to three yellow T-shirts police seized from her.
Magistrate Nasrul Hadi Abdul Ghani court released her on RM4,000 bail for displaying a yellow T-shirt and possessing two others.
The charges under Section 47 of the Societies Act carry a maximum jail term of two years or a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or both, if found guilty.
She was wearing a Bersih T-shirt when she was arrested last Monday and two others were found inside her luggage at the Miri airport upon her return from Kuching. She was also carrying two other pieces in her luggage.
Zulhaidah (left) is defended by Piasau state assemblyperson Ling Sie Kiong, human rights lawyers Majen Panyok and Abun Sui Anyit while deputy public prosecutor Yaacub Chi appeared for the prosecution.
She was originally supposed to have been brought to court tomorrow at the end of her three-day remand order, this explains why a thinner crowd was seen at the court premises today.
On her first court appearance for a remand order on Tuesday, a large crowd turned at the premises.
Police move draws fire
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian slammed Zulhaidah's arrest damning it as a politically motivated intimidation of the highest order.
"Not only is it absurd, but it is both repressive and oppressive that citizens of a democratic country are not allowed to wear T-shirts on their own volition, yellow coloured or otherwise," he said today.
"It is equally illogical for Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to rule that wearing yellow T-shirts is a criminal offence.
"Where does it state in our nation's laws that wearing yellow T-shirts is a criminal offence? Is it not the prerogative of Parliament to enact laws? Is the Home Minister, a lawyer himself, in need of reminding of the doctrine of sovereignty of Parliament?" said Baru, who is also the state assemblyperson for Ba'Kelalan.
He said that Sarawak PKR denounces the high-handed bullying tactics inflicted on Zulhaidah that are clearly repugnant to justice and more so to the spirit of His Majesty's statement and demanded that the police immediately release Zulhaidah.
She is the first person in Sarawak to arrested and charged in court for wearing a yellow T-shirt.
Zulhaidah had been in remand at the Miri police the past three days for investigation.
Condemning the police, Baru said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin's call for negotiations between the Bersih 2.0 movement and the government is a clarion call to amicably resolve the stalemate between both parties.
Too much power in ministerial hand
"In light of His Majesty's statement and the ensuing audience granted to the movement's organisers by the Palace, it is only proper to release all those arrested for supporting the movement," he said.
Baru, a lawyer, said the 1966 Societies Act gives the home minister broad powers to declare an organisation illegal.
"It also requires that all organisations register with the authorities, which subordinates freedom of association to government consent.
"Therefore, this infringes on the right to Freedom of Association, enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia," he said.
Baru also blasted the home minister for declaring the Bersih 2.0 movement illegal on July 1 for causing "an atmosphere of unrest" before its planned July 9 rally.
Hishamuddin cited three reasons for his move, adding it was an unregistered group despite fulfilling all criteria to form an organisation under the Societies Act 1966.
"But why should Bersih seek registration when it is only a coalition of 60+ NGOs which are already registered? And would ROS accept Bersih's application if it were to apply?" he asked.