Monday, September 1, 2014

Police are now 'arrest-happy', chides Kula

9:48AM Sep 1, 2014 Malaysiakini

By Terence Netto

Police are now 'arrest-happy', chides Kula

DAP national vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran described the police as "arrest happy" for rounding up members of the Pasukan Peronda Sukarela (Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit) in George Town yesterday.

Kulasegaran said the police carried out an action that they were apparently licensed to carry out, following expanded berths given to the meaning of the term "sedition".
"When legitimate dissent and criticism are viewed by the authorities as seditious, then the functions of groups that exist in the space between individuals and the state become suspect," said the MP for Ipoh Barat.

Kulasegaran (left) said civil society thrives on the existence of this space and governments in a democracy should be "enablers of these groups, rather than their oppressors."

The federal legislator was alluding to the arrests of 156 members of the PPS who took part in a Merdeka Day parade in Padang Kota yesterday.

Also arrested was PPS chairperson and state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, the man in charge of the welfare portfolio in the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat state government.

The PPS was set up in 2011 under powers said to inhere in the state executive council. It is not a body registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

"If all bodies existing in the space between individuals and the state have to come within the approved ambit of the ROS, then that space upon which civil society exists is unduly constricted," argued Kulasegaran, who is also a lawyer.

A copy of Rukun Tetangga

He said the PPS was set up to help in the preservation of order and security.

"They are a volunteer copy of the Rukun Tetangga of yesteryear and compose themselves very like the Unit Amal of PAS," said Kulasegaran.

"I'm not sure if Unit Amal (right) is a registered body but we know from the Bersih-organised rallies of the past several years, their contributions to the order and flow of those mammoth gatherings were invaluable," he opined.

“The police are being needlessly repressive, just as the Attorney-General's Chambers is being unwarrantedly expansive in giving a wide berth to the meaning of the term 'sedition'," he asserted.

Opposition politicians and some civil society members have been hauled up by police and indicted for sedition in recent weeks.

"We are entering an ominous phase of repression of civil society by the government. In some ways, the repression resembles the dark days of October 1987 when Operation Lalang was launched," observed Kulasegaran.

More than 100 opposition politicians, social activists and mother-tongue exponents were arrested in that dragnet under the draconian Internal Security Act that was repealed in 2011.

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