Malaysia: Dozens detained as cops block protests over BN takeover of state parliament

Image removed.
Dr D. Jeyakumar.

By Peter Boyle

May 8, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- Police detained dozens of opposition activists, lawyers and legislators on May 6-7 as protests erupted around Malaysia's ruling National Front's (Barisan Nasional -- BN) removal of the opposition People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) state government of Perak, one of five states won by the opposition in the March 2008 general elections. Among those arrested was Dr D. Jeyakumar, the federal MP of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

Earlier this year, the BN induced three opposition state assembly members to turn "independent" and support the BN to take over the Perak state government. May 7 was the first day of sitting of the state assembly since the BN power grab. The opposition has called for new elections to the state assembly and opinion polls indicate taht the opposition could win a bigger majority if new elections were called.

For the first time in Malaysia’s history, police invaded a state assembly and dragged off opposition assembly members who were resisting the removal of the Pakatan Rakyat speaker of the assembly. The speaker, D. Sivakumar, was also dragged off.

PSM secretary-general S. Arutchelvan described the incident as the "unmasking" of new BN Prime Minister Najib Razak as a repressive ruler.

PSM MP arrested

Jeyakumar was arrested along several others simply for turning up to show his support for the opposition at the Perak state assembly building in Ipoh, Arutchelvan explained. An electoral reform activist Wong Chin Huat was arrested and charged with sedition for calling on the public to wear black in protest. "People who went to show solidarity with Wong were harassed and arrested in front of the Brickfield Police Station", Arutchelvan reported.

"Islamic Party (PAS) vice-president Mohamad Sabu was locked up because he was going to lead mass prayers over the Perak state assembly sitting. Three students who tried to deliver a cake on the 31st birthday of Altantuya, a Mongolian model alleged to have been murdered on Najib’s orders, were also arrested.

"Police chief Musa Hassan even warned the public not to wear black on May 7. The police also obtained a court injunction which allows them to arrest on sight any member of the public seen within the vicinity of Perak state government building. Riot police surrounded the building and set up road blocks in the area and Jeyakumar and 68 other opposition supporters were arrested for breaching this order", said Arutchelvan.

Later that night, police arrested dozens of people who held candlelight vigils in several cities.

BN has `no faith in people'

Arutchelvan continued: "Those who have seen Najib in action in 1987, with his infamous threat to 'soak the keris [traditional Malay sword] in Chinese blood', will remember what he is capable of doing. The BN maneuvres to avoid a new state election in Perak and the BN’s fear of by-elections are clear signs that the BN will not try to seek any mandate from the people. When a government has no faith in the people, then they will have no choice but to use the machinery of the state -- the police, army, the courts and the election commission – to serve its objectives.

"BN’s power politics had always revolved around three factors: money politics and the support of the capitalist class, the use of state machinery to crush political enemies and the issue of race and religious issues to create disunity.

“Today we see that some of these elements are withering away. The unity within BN is crumbling every time the race card is used. It backfires. The capitalist class has no loyalty and will support any government which is pro-business and free-market orientated, as we can see in the case of the Pakatan-controlled state governments. That means Najib can only rely on the state machinery to hang on to power.

"The people surprised both the opposition and the ruling party in the last general elections. Today the people are faced by another kind of scenario when the ruling party is not interested in elections. We may not have the freedom to fight future battles through the ballot any more. It is therefore important to built multiethnic people’s power based on equality, human rights and fairness to fight the oppression and the undemocratic onslaught facing all of us.

"It is only by building a truly multiethnic people’s power from below, from the grassroots, that can we challenge the more than 50 years of tyranny by the ruling elites. The biggest challenge for Pakatan is not only the BN but its own challenge to overcome racial and religious politics and serve the people irrespective of race and religion, fairly and equally.

"Today we see a power struggle in the state of Perak. The might of the people is in its numbers. PSM stands together with the people for real reforms."

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP), formerly ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor), is a network of solidarity activists campaigning for democratic rights, self-determination and other justice struggles in the Asia Pacific region.
ASAP's People's Power Fighting Fund runs appeals for material support for various democratic struggles in the region. To donate to this fund and to help maintain this website, you can deposit directly into the Commonwealth Bank Australia BSB 062026 Account number 1006 0743. Thank-you. Your help is appreciated.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 15:23



Address:  433A, Jalan 5/46, Gasing Indah, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Telephone: +6 03 7784 3525                                Fax: +6 03 7784 3526

Email:                  Web:


Press Statement: 22 May 2009

Respect people’s constitutional rights!

Suaram strongly condemns the police arrests of eleven (11) people in a peaceful candlelight vigil to mourn the death of democracy of Perak crisis outside the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Member of Parliament Teresa Kok’s office on 19 May 2009. Among those arrested were Teo Nie Ching (Serdang Member of Parliament), Jenice Lee (Teratai state assemblyperson) and 9 party workers.


The arrest has once again demonstrated the high-handedness of the police force in handling peaceful assemblies. These arrests sum up to a total of 130 arrests (142 individuals, as Teo Nie Ching, Jenice Lee and Suara Keadilan Chinese edition editor Law Teck Hao arrested twice) in the past two weeks – an alarming number which points to the fact that the police had reacted in an unjustifiable manner.



Arrest/ Status


5 May 2009

1 arrest – Wong Chin Huat

(He was released on the 8th May)


Arrest at partment in Seri Sentosa, Kuala Lumpur and taken to Bukit Aman then to IPD Brickfields, KL

6 May 2009

3 arrests – Sani Md Shah, Saufi Mihat, Yasir Sheikh Abdul Rahman

(Released under  police bail on the 7th May)

Sending birthday cake to Prime Minister in Putrajaya

6 May 2009

1 arrest – Mohamad Sabu

(Released on the 7th May)

Near the Harakah office in Jalan Pahang Barat, Kuala Lumpur.

6 May 2009

14 arrests

(Released under the police bail on the 6th May)


Candlelight vigil outside IPD Brickfields, KL

7 May 2009

69 arrests

(Released on the 7th May)

Ipoh, Perak

7 May 2009

20 arrests

- Law Teck Hao (arrested on 6 and 7 May)

(Released under police bail on the 8th May)

Candlelight vigil outside IPD Brickfields, KL

7 May 2009

1 arrest – Eng Kiat

(Released under police bail on the 8th May)

Candlelight vigil in Penang

7 May 2009

10 arrests

(Released under  police bail on the 7th May)

Candlelight vigil in Sarawak

19 May 2009

11 arrests

- Teo Nie Ching (arrested on 6 and 19 May)

(Released on the 20th May at 3am)


Candlelight vigil outside DAP MP Teresa Kok’s office

21 May 2009

16 arrested in Teratai, Ampang

 (they were remanded for 2 days)

- Jenice Lee (arrested on 7 May in Perak ,19 May and 21 May)

Candlelight vigil outside DAP Teratai Service Centre


Total: 146 arrest (142 individuals)



Recent events clearly demonstrate the government’s growing repression against public dissent, especially in light of the political developments in Perak. The arrests are a clear form of intimidation by the BN government, with the connivance of the police, to silence the public’s discontentment in the civil disobedience movement that was initiated by Wong Chin Huat’s call for all Malaysians to wear black to mourn the “death of democracy” in Perak.


Furthermore, the way the police made the arrests is in itself a blatant abuse of power, unprofessional and an excessive show of the force by the police, especially since in most  cases the public had agreed to cooperate with the police. Clearly, the police has gone beyond their powers in the arrests which were made in bad faith.


The arrests and the detention of these inviduals raise further doubts on the impartiality of the police whether the police force is now being ‘used’ by the certain quarters for their own political agenda. The police credibility is once again put in test. The unprofessional treatment and abuse of powers by the police in the recent arrests of the public, activists and also lawyers only further reveal  the urgent need for the  establishing the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission). Only in that way, the new Prime Minister and the police force will regain the public confidence in them. 


The police are a public service unit responsible to protect the rights and dignity of the people. The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials stipulates that law enforcement officials must maintain and uphold the human rights of all person and Article 5 of the UN Code also spells out that no law enforcement official may inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or invoke superior orders or exceptional circumstances, such as a threat to national security, to justify these actions. The police therefore must not be seen acting in contrary to the rights as continued act of aggression and abuse of power will only lead the public to lose confidence in this crucial public service. The police are accountable to the people and not politicians or certain political parties. We urge the government and the police to stop all forms of intimidation against the public and respect the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of the people immediately!

Released by,


Coordinator SUARAM