PETALING JAYA: Just hours after failing to gain entry into Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) premises here yesterday, the Registrar of Societies (ROS) had this to say to to the human rights organisation: “We will continue trying … there is definitely a way for us.”
ROS Director-General Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman told The Malay Mail they would continue with their investigations and find other means to enter Suaram’s premises to conduct their investigations.
The ROS is investigating Suaram to determine if the human rights organisation falls under the “societies” category.
“We are conducting this investigation to confirm whether Suaram fulfills the criteria of a society. There is a provision allowing us to inspect the premises under Schedule 1 of the Societies Act 1966 where we will verify their position,” said Abdul Rahman.
“Upon verification, the investigation will then fall under Section 6 of the Societies Act 1966 which says that all societies must be registered. Failure to register will mean that Suaram have violated Section 6 of the Act.
“Though we could not enter their premises today, we will continue with our investigation. It doesn’t mean that since they stopped us from entering, we will discontinue our investigation. We will continue trying, there is definitely a way for us.”
Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel said the ROS should have just sent the organisation a letter, requesting the pertinent documents to assist in their investigation.
“What happened earlier was very much an act of intimidation. If he (Abdul Rahman) was really interested in investigating and researching Suaram as a potential society, this cannot be the way … to arrive with the police and so on.
“He can do it through other means. We have given everything to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and gave them full cooperation. We will do the same for ROS so long as we understand the motives and believe it is logical, we will cooperate,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel also pointed out that they are in discussion with Suaram lawyers on the best methods to deal with this “new assault from a different front”.
At around 11.45am yesterday, four ROS officers accompanied by two uniformed police officers “visited” Suaram headquarters in Petaling Jaya to conduct an “inspection”. However, they were denied entry as Suaram lawyers Latheefa Koya, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Afiq M.
Noor questioned their authority and whether they had any legal provisions to enter Suaram premises.
“They (the authorities) want to do an inspection under the purview that Suaram is a society. We said that’s quite difficult because they have to inform us on the authority to do so when Suaram is registered as a company.
“Suaram is already being investigated by the Company’s Commission. I reached the office at around 12 noon and they (ROS) left at around 12.30pm,” Latheefa said.
When asked if the officers were being forceful, Latheefa said that they were “polite” and did not cause any problems.
“We did ask them whether they were instructed by an authority higher than their director-general but they just stated that they are coming in under their capacity as ROS and were doing a so called general inspection.
“Our concern was that there is already a government agency that raided and inspected Suaram. It’s really unnecessary to do the same thing.
“They should have just shared information with each other,” Latheefa said. On another note, the organisation will also be lodging a police report against the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, at the Petaling Jaya District Police Station at 11am today.
Suaram coordinator R. Thevarajan said that the reason they are lodging a report is due to allegations that Ismail Sabri was preempting the charges laid out against them.
“Normally charges will only be laid out after an investigation is completed. We believe his statement was politically motivated and we are lodging a report because we believe he is abusing his power as a minister while the investigation against Suaram is still ongoing,” Thevarajan said.
By Azril Annuar and Meena Lakshana | Malay Mail, 20 September 2012