KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — A magistrate dismissed today an application to remand Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan, giving the police until 7pm instead to record the politician’s statement.
Latheefa Koya, who is one of the activist’s five lawyers, told reporters and Arutchelvan’s supporters the news outside the Dang Wangi district police headquarters this afternoon after spending over an hour trying to secure his freedom.
“The good news is that the remand application has been dismissed and the police have been given time till 7pm to record Arutchelvan’s statement, since he was picked up from his home at the same time last night, before releasing him,” Latheefa said to cheers from the crowd.
Arutchelvan was taken to Dang Wangi last night and has since been held in lockup to aid in investigations into his comment that Anwar’s imprisonment had been a politically-motivated one.
Latheefa claimed that PSM activist’s detention was unlawful and unfair as there are others who made allegedly seditious remarks that have been left off the hook despite numerous police reports lodged against them.
Arutchelvan’s lead counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad alleged that there is a clear bias in how the authorities exercise their powers under the Sedition Act, depending on who they are dealing with.
“This is a clear breach of Article 8 under the Federal Constitution which stipulates any individual regardless of race and class to be treated fairly but what we see here seems like the investigation method depends on whether they are upper class or not,” he added.
Datuk S. Ambiga, who is also representing Arutchelvan, claimed that there is no regard for liberty in the country, given the government’s use of the Sedition Act to silence critics.
“Everybody is equal before the law and you cannot treat people differently. This bad habit of arresting for sedition and holding for remand must stop.
“We have to all keep an eye on all sedition cases and make sure we are treated fairly… when they (police) arrest, they are punishing the individual before trial and that is not permissible,” she said.
It was reported last night that over 10 police officers were outside Arutchelvan’s house in Kajang, Selangor to take him and his belongings for investigations.
According to a report by English daily the Sun last week, the police were looking to investigate Jingga 13 chief and PKR leader Fariz Musa, Arutchelvan, and Penang state exco Dr Afif Bahardin.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was reported as saying that Fariz will be investigated allegedly for inciting street protests, Arutchelvan for claiming political conspiracy in Anwar’s case, while Afif had purportedly asked the public to no longer trust the judiciary.
Cartoonist Zunar or Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque was remanded for three days last week after he was arrested over a Twitter post that mentioned the judiciary and political masters.
Other than the cartoonist, Khalid also ordered police to investigate DAP MP Nga Kor Ming and PKR MP Rafizi Ramli for sedition, both for tweets on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction.
Putrajaya had previously pledged to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 that critics say is used to stifle political opposition and dissent, but later announced that it will be retained and expanded instead.
The Federal Court on Tuesday upheld the Court of Appeal’s 2014 ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, also sentencing him to five years’ jail.