Thursday, July 7, 2011

Zulhaidah’s detention ‘politically motivated’

Joseph Tawie | July 7, 2011

By declaring ‘Bersih’ as illegal on July 1, the Home Ministry has caused “an atmosphere of unrest,” says Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian

KUCHING: The three-day police detention of PKR Youth secretary Zulhaidah Suboh for wearing a yellow T-shirt is “political intimidation” of the highest order, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said today.

“Not only is it absurd, it is also both repressive and oppressive that citizens of a democratic country are not allowed to wear T-shirts of their own choice, yellow-coloured or otherwise.

“It is equally illogical for the 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?

“Does the home minister, a lawyer himself, need reminding of the doctrine of sovereignty of Parliament?”

Calling for her immediate release, Bian, who is also the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, said the party denounced such “high-handed bullying tactics inflicted on Zulhaidah”.

“In the spirit of the King’s statement, we demand that the police immediately release Zulhaidah without fail,” he said.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s call for negotiations between Bersih 2.0 and the government is a clarion call by the King to amicably resolve the stalemate between both parties.

“In light of the King’s statement and the 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.

Broad powers

Zulhaidah, who was detained at the Miri airport on July 4 became the first person to be arrested for wearing yellow T-shirt in Sarawak.

She was returning from Kuching to Miri and was also carrying two other pieces in her luggage.

She is being remanded and under investigation at the Miri police station for three days.

No formal charges have been brought against her. She is to appear before the court tomorrow.

Bian accused the government of trying to subordinate freedom of association to government consent by using the Societies Act 1966 that gives the home minister broad powers to declare an organisation illegal.

Under Section 47 of the Act any person who prints, publishes, displays, sells or exposes for sale, or transmits through the post or who, without lawful authority or excuse, has in his possession any placard, newspaper, book, circular, pictorial representation or any other document or writing whatsoever or which is issued or appears to be issued by or on behalf of or in the interests of an unlawful society shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or both.

“This infringes 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.

Bian said that by declaring “Bersih” as illegal on July 1, the home ministry is creating “an atmosphere of unrest.”

Sarawak is calm

Meanwhile, Sarawak Commissioner of Police Mohmad Salleh said that the security situation in the state is calm unlike in the peninsula which is gripped by tension over the highly publicised Bersih rally.

However, he advised the people to stay away from any unlawful assembly organised in support of Bersih as stern action would be taken against them.

The opposition parties are expected to hold rallies in Miri, Sibu and Kuching during which they will wear yellow T-shirts to express support and solidarity with their counter-parts in Kuala Lumpur.

For the time being, they will not reveal where the rallies are to be held for fear of police harassment.

However, some of the opposition leaders will be leaving for Kuala Lumpur to take part in the rally to be held in a stadium.

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