KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today criticised the police for not acting independently and denying requests by lawyers and families to visit the six Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) members detained under under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 (EO).

“It is clear that the police are dancing to the tune of their polical masters,” said Suhakam commissioner, Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah.

“When the family members want to visit them (the detainees), the police keep denying them access, saying that they are waiting instructions from above,” he told FMT today.

“What further instructions are they waiting for? They have already charged them and have a case against them. It seems police are not even sure about the instructions that they are getting,” he said.

This morning, police rejected a third attempt by lawyers and families to gain access to the six PSM members. They first tried to meet the six on Saturday when they were arrested but were told by the police that they could only do so on Monday.

Yesterday lawyers for the six detained and about 20 of their family members, some of whom had travelled from Perak, went to the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters but in vain.

This morning, Muhammad Sha’ani received a three-point memorandum from human rights watchdog Suaram over the rash action by the police in recent weeks.

Muhammad Sha’ani said that the police should act appropriately, adding that they should not parrot their “masters”, in reference to the recent clampdown on Bersih 2.0 organisers and declaring the three planned rallies on July 9 illegal.

“The police cannot declare anything illegal. They have no power. They have to wait for the home ministry to gazette something to be illegal,” he said.

In its three-point memo, Suaram, on behalf of PSM and NGOs such as Lawyers for Liberty and Aman (Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia), urged Suhakam to intervene and dispute the detention of the six under the EO.

They also want Suhakam to help families of the the six detained PSM members gain access to them and their lawyers.

Their third request is for all charges against the other 24 PSM detainees who were held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) be dropped.

“We viewed the matter very seriously and will contact the police immediately,” said Muhammad Sha’ani.

“We have to write to the police first. By law, they cannot deny us access. But I suspect in this case, the police will try and cause delays…,” he added.

No neutrality

M Raman, the father of Sarath Babu, one of the detainees, said: “We were in Bukit Aman yesterday but couldn’t see my son. Then we went back to Ipoh and came back today hoping to see him. But the lawyers told me that access has been denied again.”

“What mistake have they (detainees) done that we can’t see them? Yesterday, he (R Sarathbabu) was supposed to sit for his law examination but he missed it. So now we will just have wait and see what to do,” he added.

Edmund Bon, one of the members of the legal team, said that since access has been denied the third time, they will file for a writ of habeas corpus tomorrow in the Duta Court complex and get the family members to sign the affidavits instead of the detainees.

Another human rights lawyer, N Surendran, took a swipe at the judiciary for not executing its duties neutrally.

“Why did the (Penang) magistrate thoughtlessly give orders to remand them when there is no evidence against them?” asked Surendran.

He said that tackling this “pro-establishment” judiciary was one of the challenges that Suhakam has to take on.

Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, party deputy chairperson M Saraswathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M Sugumaran, national youth chief R Sarathbabu and Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan were re-arrested under the Emergency Ordinance on Saturday for allegedly being involved in subversive activities.

They were initially a part of a group of 30 arrested and remanded in Penang on June 25. They were remanded for, among other charges, under Section 122 of the Penal Code for waging war against the King.

Yesterday, the rest of the 24 activists were jointly charged under Section 48(1) of the Societies Act 1966, in connection with the Bersih 2.0 rally scheduled for July 9.

The group is also jointly charged under Section 29 (1) of the ISA for being in possession of subversive documents.

Tarani Palani | July 5, 2011, Free Malaysia Today