No citizens shall be arrested for entering Parliament
Musa Hassan should apologize to save PM’s reputation
Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) and Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) condemns the police’s mass arrest of 24 Malaysian citizens for entering the Parliament or trying to do so yesterday. The police’s paranoiac action of locking-down central Kuala Lumpur has also caused massive traffic jams.
WAMI and CIJ called for a public apology by the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan to both the arrestees and the general public for their misjudgment resulting in an assault of the Parliament, inconvenience, stress, economic and time loss to the public.
WAMI and CIJ stress that the Parliament being the paramount democratic institution must be accessible to all citizens. The court’s restraining order applied by the police to stop people from gathering at the Parliament was therefore an abuse of the judiciary process. It was also an assault to the Parliament privileges in a Westminster system, enshrined in Article 63 of the Federal Constitution, that the two other branches of the Government, namely the Executive and Judiciary must respect. The Parliament’s own privilege committee has the power to penalize any unruly act with maximum imprisonment up to 60 days or fine up to RM 1000.
Seven of the arrestees, including WAMI chairperson Wong Chin Huat and CIJ executive director V. Gayathry, were taken by the police within the Parliament compound after they have submitted BERSIH memorandum to the Parliamentarians in a press conference.
PM Abdullah has earlier argued that his administration only rejects street protests, the right of which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution, in his article in Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ, Dec 7 2007) “Malaysia’s Democracy is strong”. That the arrest of the “Parliament 7” was due to a press conference speaks volume that the Abdullah Administration is intolerable to all political dissents regardless of channels.
PM Abdullah must order IGP Musa Hassan to apologize as the police’s ill-adviced and unjustified actions on yesterday have painted a very negative picture of his administration domestically and internationally. They make him looks like he intends to imitate not only the authoritarian former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir and the unpopular Pakistani President Musharraf, but also the infamous English monarch Charles I who invaded his Parliament with 400 soldiers in1642. To save the Prime Minister’s reputation, IGP Musa Hassan should honourably offer his apology even before being asked.
Wong Chin Huat Gayathry V.
Chairperson, WAMI Executive Director, CIJ