PETALING JAYA:  The police today raided the Bersih secretariat here and seized several items as the authorities increased the pressure on the movement to call off its mass rally on July 9.

They have also taken away seven staff members for questioning.

PKR supreme council member Latheefa Koya told reporters that the police came at about 11am and had threatened to force their way into the Bersih secretariat. Bersih shares the single storey residential house with another NGO, Empower.

“When the staff enquired the police whether they had a warrant, the police refused to answer and threatened to break down the gate.

“That’s when one of the staff opened the gate for them,” said Latheefa. Also present were Lawyers for Liberty advisor Eric Paulsen and coordinator Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.

Latheefa was not at the venue when the police arrived and only reached the place at about 1pm.

Staff members questioned

The police also questioned seven staff members under the Police Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

Latheefa added that the staff members had their MyKads seized and were not allowed to leave the office.

She added that an officer known as ACP Rosli had said that the staff members will be investigated in the Bersih office for now.

If need be, they will then be taken for questioning at the Petaling Jaya police headquarters, she said.

At 3.20pm, the staff members – five women and two men – were led by the police into a police truck.

The police also took away seven plastic bags filled with seized items, six boxes, four banners and posters into the truck.

Those detained were Lau Shu Shi, Temme Lee Wei Wei, Eruthayamary Sinappan, Mohamad Ikhsan Samat, Normila Noordin, Deepa Nair Balakrishnan and Ang Hiok Gai.

There was a short commotion at the scene when Hindraf Makkal Sakthi national coordinator K Balakrishnan protested against the arrest of the stafff members.

“How can you arrest ladies without having lady officers present?” shouted Balakrishnan. Deepa Nair is Balakrishnan’s daughter.

Illegal activities

Selangor police chief Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah, when contacted, said the raid was conducted following a tip off that there were illegal activities taking place in the premise.

“So we monitored the place and found the allegation was true,” said Tun Hisan.

The police chief said his officers had seized hundreds of Bersih T-shirts and other Bersih apparels from the office.

“Bersih is also an illegal body as it is not registered under the Societies Act. So we will refer to Registrar of Societies on this case as well,”said Tun Hisan.

In a press conference later, a lawyer from the KL Bar Legal Aid Bureau, Honey Tan said the staff members were being taken to Petaling Jaya IPD for questioning.

“The police even took items not related to Bersih,” she said.

Earlier the police barred reporters from entering the premises during the raid. An officer even took contact numbers and details from reporters present.

Also present was Bersih steering committee member Haris Ibrahim.

G Vinod | June 29, 2011, Free Malaysia