Updated 10.07pm on 26 May 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 26 May 2009:Police arrested 19 people including eight Pakatan Rakyat (PR) elected representatives during PR’s hunger strike this morning, Chinese-language news portal Merdeka Review reported. However, alll 19 were later released by police.
Since 5 May, police have made a total of 146 arrests mainly for what the police say are illegal gatherings related to protests against political developments in Perak. Today’s incident raises the total number of arrests to 165 in just three weeks.
Police arrested 14 people at 11.30am including Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament M Kulasegaran, assemblypersons V Sivakumar (Tronoh-DAP), Leong Mee Meng (Jalong-DAP), Lim Pek Har (Menglembu-DAP), Keshvinder Singh (Malim Nawar-DAP), Su Keong Seng (Pasir Pinji-DAP), Chang Lih Kang (Teja-PKR), and Chan Ming Kai (Simpang Pulai-PKR), while they were walking towards the Ipoh High Court today. The 14 were later released on police bail.
Earlier at 7am, the police also arrested five employees from an event management company that PR hired to help organise the “Mogok Lapar Bubar DUN” at the Perak DAP headquarters. The arrested were brought to the Ipoh district police station.
The three-day hunger strike was organised by Perak PR to pressure for the dissolution of the Perak assembly.
(Photo (© Steve Wood / sxc.hu)
PR’s embattled Perak Menteri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and the other PR assemblypersons, who turned up in black attire, proceeded to launch the hunger strike at around 10am despite heavy police presence.
The Perak DAP headquarters was surrounded by around 70 police personnel, including 20 plain-clothes police, and 15 police vehicles.
Over 100 people attended the hunger strike’s opening ceremony.
After the launch, Ipoh crime chief DSP Glenn Anthony ordered everyone to disperse. Perak DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham then approached the police to negotiate while Nizar left for the Ipoh High Court.
PR-appointed Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) heads were expected to file a suit against the Barisan Nasional (BN) state government today at the Ipoh High Court.
Later, Sivakumar who is also embattled Perak state assembly speaker, Kulasegaran, Keshvinder, and their supporters started to march towards the Ipoh High Court.
File pic of V Sivakumar, who was among
those arrested today
However, Anthony used the loud hailer to order them to disperse again: “I’m counting to three, [I] order you all to disperse immediately, or else I’ll arrest [you people],” the Merdeka Review report said.
Police arrested the trio when they continued to march forward. Five other assemblypersons, Sivakumar’s and Leong’s political secretaries, and four supporters were also detained later.
Police also dismantled PR’s tent. Earlier at 9.30am, the police threatened to dismantle the tent but halted their actions after PR reps including Ngeh, Nga Kor Ming, Chan and Chang negotiated with them.
The police were stationed at the site from 6.30am. They also seized a balloon to advertise the event.
Nizar and Sivakumar attempted to shake hands with some of the police personnel when they arrived at the scene but were stopped by Anthony.
In IPOH, Perak police chief Datuk Zulkefli Abdullah told Bernama police took down statements from the 19 who were arrested in the morning before releasing them at 4.20pm.
“They were arrested for holding the illegal assembly or participating in it and were trying to march to near the Perak Darul Ridzuan building.
“As the gathering was held without a permit and they ignored the police order to disperse, police were forced to act by arresting them under Section 27 (5) of the Police Act for investigation,” he said.