KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah today lashed out at the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) bloc, accusing it of abusing its power to crack down on dissent.
The PKR lawmaker said the latest example of its heavy-handed action was the police investigation against Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann over his call to Malaysians with the “Sheraton Move” to attend a demonstration at Dataran Merdeka back in February.
“It is disappointing that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government continues to intimidate and arrest activists based on flimsy excuses of differing views,” Maria, a former Bersih 2.0 chairman, said in a statement.
Police are only now investigating Fann under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for a posting on the official Bersih 2.0 Facebook page on February 29 urging citizens to join a gathering that night to show their unhappiness with politicians involved in the “Sheraton Move” for going against the Election 2018 mandate that catapulted Pakatan Harapan (PH) into power.
The “Sheraton Move” saw several lawmakers abandon PH and join up with Barisan Nasional, leading to the eventual collapse of the PH government and the rise of PN led by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Maria claimed the police have taken increasingly repressive action against other activists and political leaders.
“The Parlimen Digital, an online initiative by the youth, saw some of its participants hauled up by the police for investigation.
“Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh was hauled up for a fake poster which was not created by her but by an unknown person, but unfortunately resulted in her taking the brunt of the police investigation,” she said.
She listed former radio presenter Patrick Teoh, 73, as another who was hauled up during the movement control order allegedly for running afoul of the authorities over a statement on Facebook said to have insulted the Johor royal institution; and Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun for initiating a contempt of court case against Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan for publishing comments from readers that were deemed contemptuous of the judiciary.
Maria accused the PN government of weakening the country’s democratic rights.
“The intimidations can only be perceived as attempts to reinstate the culture of fear through the use of broadly worded laws to haul activists, ordinary citizens and politicians for their postings on social media.
“The police as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs seemingly have no qualms in violating our Federal Constitution that protects freedom of speech,” she said.
“It is therefore imperative that in the coming Parliament sitting that the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) be brought back to be tabled and implemented so that we can have a reformed police force that respect human rights and democracy,” she added.
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