Catholic bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing aired his anxiety that the country was edging closer to being "a police state" because the courts could free an arrested individual, only for the police to re-arrest the same persons and charge them under obsolete laws.

"It appears the police are making all the valuations based on a self-defined goal of national security," said the head of the Catholic Church in the Johor-Melaka diocese.

NONE"Things are beginning to seem frozen at a certain level, no higher than the imaginations of the governing mediocrities of the police force and the Attorney-General's Chambers," asserted the Jesuit-trained prelate.

He was commenting on the re-arrest on May 27 of former ISA detainee Yazid Sufaat, this time under Section 130KA of the Penal Code, after he had been freed by the High Court on May 21 on a charge under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Other re-arrests the bishop was referring to were those affecting MP Tian Chua of PKR, politician Tamrin Ghafar of PAS, and NGO activist Haris Ibrahim who were charged yesterday under the Sedition Act 1948.

A magistrate's court had on Monday denied a police request for a remand order on all three following their initial arrest on suspicion of sedition.

Bishop Paul Tan said the police and the AG's Chambers could be accused of selective prosecution because they had done nothing in recent years to prosecute individuals who had inflamed the feelings of minorities and other groups through rabble-rousing and incitement.

"Politicians and other firebrands have called for the burning of holy books and had accused, without offering proof, minority religious groups of proselytising Muslims, and nothing has been done to them," charged the bishop.

"Now you have individuals whose apparent offence is the expression of robust dissent, and that too on a matter which is being queried by many quarters - the suspicion that the polls on May 5 was riddled with irregularities," he said.

"These dissidents are being hauled up for sedition whereas rabble-rousers are allowed to go free.
Custodial deaths

Bishop Paul Tan also said the public has been periodically jarred by news over the last several years of the deaths while under police custody of people who have been arrested as criminal suspects.

"Hardly any police personnel have been indicted for these deaths which disturb the public conscience because of their regularity and apparent brutality," said the bishop.

He said the steady rate of deaths of suspects while in police custody has been a national scandal but the police appear "well-nigh incorrigible."

"It is any wonder then that by their derelictions and by their selective actions, the police have given cause for people to think that our country is edging closer to being a police state?" asked the bishop.

He said Christian social teaching holds dear the inviolability of human life, the right of individuals to peaceful expression of dissent, and the duty of citizens to oppose corruption and abuse of power.

"A state that is willing to usurp the faculties of those it rules by refusing to let them think and express themselves peacefully has already proved itself barbarous, even if it doesn't go on to resort to concentration camps and mass executions."
The bishop said that he was opposed to injustice and immorality, selective prosecutions and the deliberate targeting of dissidents, according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which allows its clerics to denounce violations of human rights while forbidding them to take partisan political stances on the issues of the day.