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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Police crackdown continues with three more arrests

Mohamad Sabu

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 2009 | Mlaysianinsider - By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

— The police have arrested PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu, PKR Youth leader Badrul Hisham and another unidentified activist just a day before the Perak state assembly convenes amid accusations of a crackdown on dissent.

Mohamad, known popularly as Mat Sabu, was arrested at 3.45pm near party publication Harakah's office here today while Badrul and the unidentified activist were detained at 2pm in Putrajaya.

Their arrests come just a day after another activist, Wong Chin Huat, was detained yesterday for sedition because he called for Malaysians to wear black tomorrow in protest against the Barisan Nasional (BN) power grab in Perak.

The Malysian Insider understands that Mohamad Sabu was also arrested under the Sedition Act and has been taken to Bukit Aman police headquarters.

It is learnt that Badrul and the unidentified activist may also have been arrested under the Sedition Act.

Today’s arrests suggest the authorities have been spooked by reports that federal opposition parties were planning a mass protest against what has been an unpopular takeover of the Perak government by the ruling BN coalition.

The takeover in Perak, which was orchestrated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has even been described as hasty and improper by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, an ally of Najib.

Badrul Hisham

Najib’s promise of reforms have been marred by the crackdown which come on top of three other arrests today of opposition supporters after they tried to deliver a cake to his office to mark the birthday of Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose death has been repeatedly linked to the prime minister.

Two policemen who were part of Najib’s security detail were convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder last month, although there is no evidence that Najib was involved in the murder.

Besides the Altantuya murder, the Perak constitutional crisis continues to be a major distraction for the Najib administration.

The latest arrests today is believed to be linked to plans to organise a mass prayer session in Ipoh tomorrow as BN hopes to legitimise its administration in the state assembly.

Mohamad was arrested at 3.45 pm near the office of the party publication Harakah here today while Badrul and the unidentified activist were detained at 2 pm in Putrajaya.

It is learnt that a group of police officers came in three cars and approached Mohamad just as he was walking out of a restaurant near Jalan Pahang where he was having drinks with other PAS members.

Also present at the time of Mohamad’s arrest was PAS youth chief Salahuddin Ayub who claimed the police had not shown any warrant when making the arrest.

“The arrest was made in a rough and uncivilized manner. I and a few others had tried to help Mohamad but were stopped by the large number of police officers present,” he said.

It is believed that the arrest was made in relation to the PAS planned gathering in Ipoh early tomorrow morning. The PAS vice president is the main person behind the gathering.

Although the gathering is slated to be a peaceful one, a confrontation between PAS supporters and the police is likely to happen as the rising political tension in Perak could prompt a stern response from the authorities.

Wong, who had urged the public to wear black tomorrow to “mourn” the takeover, is also believed to have been arrested in relation to the rising tension in Perak.

Many opposition leaders condemned Wong’s arrest as the beginning of a government crackdown on dissent, with veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang asking if Najib would have even arrested Mahatma Gandhi for sedition.

Meanwhile, Badrul and the unidentified activist were arrested in relation to this morning’s event, in which opposition members tried to deliver a cake to Najib.

Initially, the police arrested three members from the Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia group, a group linked to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and led by Badrul.

The three were then brought to the Putrajaya police headquarters where they are currently being detained.

Badrul and his friend, who later came over to the police station to check on his group members, were then arrested upon arrival.

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