KUALA LUMPUR, 12 May 2009: The MCA wants Royal Malaysian Police to apologise for their hastiness in conducting the mass arrests of candlelight vigil participants and lawyers last week, despite the fact that they did not pose any threat to the police.
The party also wants the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan to take disciplinary action against those who ordered the mass arrests.
MCA Political Education Bureau chairperson Gan Ping Sieu said MCA was “appalled” by the haste in which police arrested those attending candlelight vigils for academician Wong Chin Huat, who was detained under the Sedition Act on 5 May. He was released on 8 May.
On 6 May, police arrested 14 people at a candlelight vigil in front of the Brickfields District Police Station, and another 20 were arrested the next day.
In a media statement, Gan said the arrest of five KL Legal Aid lawyers on 7 May was an “unlawful and blatant disregard of the rule of law.” The lawyers were detained by the police when they tried to gain access to 14 candlelight vigil supporters who were arrested earlier in the night. All those who were arrested were later released without charge.
“Lawyers are entitled to have free access to their clients in custody and should not be impeded by the authorities,” he said, adding that detainees have a right to legal representation as well.
“The IGP must hold an inquiry into this affair and to ascertain what valid reasons have been offered by the errant OCPD who authorised the arrest [of the lawyers],” said Gan.
He added that an apology from the police must be offered to restore public confidence in the police force.
He said the candlelight vigil was a peaceful assembly and the police could have asked the supporters to move aside if they were obstructing traffic or causing a public disturbance.
“Without any imminent physical threat to anyone, let alone to the police, the dispersion order and forcible manner of arrest would be construed as an abuse of police power,” Gan said.
He also noted that the police did not take any action when mob rule threatened the closure of seminars in the past.
The police action has also come under fire from the Malaysian Bar, which is holding an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 15 May to protest against the arrest of the lawyers.