Former Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah says the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), which was used against Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan, is now being used to silence party members from speaking up against the prime minister.
"Sosma has been used against Khairuddin simply because he is a politician from Umno.
"Top leaders from Umno want to make sure he shuts his mouth and to use it to strike fear in Umno members.
The leaders understand that at this moment in time, in all practicality, it is Umno that can bring down the prime minister," Saifuddin told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
The arrest of Khairuddin (photo) under Sosma was specifically to intimidate any Umno member who may have the intention of toppling the prime minister, he said.
Khairuddin, the Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chief, was initially arrested under Section 124C of the Penal Code for "activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy", for lodging reports against 1MDB in several countries abroad.
A few days later, he was re-arrested under Sosma, which provides for a person to be detained without trial for up to 28 days.
Institute Rakyat executive director Yin Shao Loong added that right now, the only viable way for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to be removed from office was by Umno itself.
"All the other mechanisms of accountability that can be applied to the prime minister have been thoroughly crushed. The only process left is for Umno, the ruling party, to remove their leader," he said.
Government broke promise
Saifuddin said it was now time to see if Putrajaya had double standards as to who it will arrest under Sosma.
"If they dare, catch (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well," he said.
Mahathir has been a vocal critic of Najib and 1MDB for over a year now.
Saifuddin was speaking at a press conference with several other NGO representatives calling for the immediate release of Khairuddin.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the government has broken their promise not to arrest activists and political figures under Sosma.
National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president S Ambiga (photo) said this promise had been put into law as Section 4(3) of Sosma prohibits detention for any political beliefs or activities.
She described Khairuddin's arrest as part of the 'worrying trend' on the further restriction of rights in Malaysia.
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) head Cynthia Gabriel and Bersih steering committee member Thomas Fann were also present at the press conference.
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