Malaysia: Demand the release of socialist leader arrested on sedition charges!

S. Arutchelvan.

[See also "Malaysia: Solidarity statement -- 'Free Arul! Abolish the Sedition Act!'"]

By Jeyakumar Deveraj

February 20, 2015 -- PSM, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At about 6 pm, February 19, 15 policemen from the Dang Wangi police station descended on the house of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM) secretary general S. Arutchelvan [Arul] in Kajang, and arrested him. According to the arresting officer, Arul was being arrested under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, which reads: "Any person who prints, publishes ... or reproduces any seditious publication shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years."

We believe Arul has been arrested for his press statement on behalf of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia on Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy 2 guilty verdict. In that statement Arul criticised the Federal Court judgement, saying the courts are not independent and are politically driven. Court judgements are usually open to comment by lawyers and legal academics. But soon after, the IGP tweeted that Arul would be investigated for his "seditious" statement! The PSM feels that this is a selected persecution by the police whom solely decides which is seditious and which is not.

Arul has been taken to the Dang Wangi police station and we are told that the police will apply to the magistrate under section 117 of the CPC for remand tomorrow.

The PSM deplores the heavy-handed action of the Dang Wangi police.

A request to Arul to come to the police station would have been sufficient. Surely the time of the 15 police officers could have been better utilised to combat crime! Furthermore the police decided to make this arrest on the Chinese New Year public holidays.

There is no need at all to lock Arul up overnight, or to ask for one or more days of remand. PSM members are prepared to cooperate with police investigations.

Police are clearly attempting to intimidate the Malaysian public by using the Sedition Act of 1948 –- an Act formulated by our colonial rulers to suppress the freedom of speech and opinion. The police are attempting to clamp down on any criticism of the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. We would like to remind the police and their BN masters that 2015 is quite different from 1948, and attempts to intimidate the public will backfire.

We demand the immediate release of S. Arutchelvan, and the dropping of all sedition charges against him.

[Please send messages demanding S. Arutchelvan's immediate release to the Malaysian embassy or consulate in your country.]


i agree with you Jeyakumar Deveraj about Demand the release of socialist leader arrested on sedition charges!


Court rejects police application to remand socialist party leader

Published: February 20, 2015

PSM deputy chairperson M. Saras (far left) with Arutchelvan's lawyers Datuk S. Ambiga, Latheefa Koya, Amer Hamzah Arshad, New Sin Yew and Syahredzan Johan who secured the activist's release for 7pm today. — Picture by Yiswaree Palansamy
PSM deputy chairperson M. Saras (far left) with Arutchelvan's lawyers Datuk S. Ambiga, Latheefa Koya, Amer Hamzah Arshad, New Sin Yew and Syahredzan Johan who secured the activist's release for 7pm today. — Picture by Yiswaree Palansamy

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.