KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said was arrested and questioned for sedition late last night for allegedly flying the Sang Saka Malaya flag on the eve of Merdeka celebrations at Dataran Merdeka, according to his lawyer Latheefa Koya.
Latheefa said Samad, known popularly as Pak Samad, was picked up by the police from his house in Bangsar here at about 12.30am and brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.
The co-chairman of polls reform group Bersih was said to have been questioned for more than an hour and was released around 2.30am.
“He was arrested abt 1230 last nite-brought to ipd dang wangi n was questioned under s.4 Sedition act & section 505 penal code in relation to Sang Saka-was released abt 230am. both Eric Paulsen and I represented him,” Latheefa told The Malay Mail Online in a text message.
Two activists were also detained yesterday in relation to the pre-independence flag.
Prior to his arrest, the police claimed it was on the “hunt” for A Samad while Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz blasted the poet and urged him to voluntarily turn himself in.
“Everybody is the same… even if we’re ministers, if we did something wrong and the police called us up, then we should’ve come,” Nazri told reporters after a ministry event here.
“Who does A. Samad Said think he is?… Does he think he is some kind of a big shot?”
The poet, however, denied he was evading the police and claimed to have not received any formal notification from the authorities.
The Malay Mail Online was not able to reach A. Samad for verification.
Earlier yesterday, state news agency Bernama had reported Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar as urging A. Samad to surrender to help facilitate their investigation over the incident.
Police reportedly detained student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim and activist Hishamuddin Rais over the same August 30 incident last night but have since released the duo.
The Sang Saka Malaya is a two-striped red-and-white flag with a crescent moon and an 11-pointed star in the top left corner.
It was used by the first Malay party, Kesatuan Melayu Malaya (KMM) formed in 1938, that had fought against the colonial British for the country’s independence.
This is the second time in two years where authorities have taken action under the Sedition Act 1948, on those caught holding up the Sang Saka Malaya flag.
Last September, the police arrested two youths for allegedly flying the Sang Saka Malaya flag during the countdown to the 55th National Day on August 30.
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malay Mail