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Rising tide of repression –
after Police Act with more police brutalities and human rights violations, PPPA,
OSA, will ISA be next followed by a second Operation Lalang?
(Parliament, Monday) : Yesterday saw more police brutalities and human right violations – when 15 people were arrested in front of Puchong’s IOI shopping mall in the fourth peaceful demonstration against the unfair toll hikes.
Police brutalities and trampling on human rights started two weeks ago at the previous peaceful protest against the toll hikes at the Cheras-Kajang Highway Batu 11 toll booth where 21 people were arrested.
As the first two anti-toll hike protests at Subang’s Sunway City on Jan 7 and Gombak’s KL-Karak toll booth on Jan 14 had been conducted peacefully without any incidents, it would appear that the Police and the Abdullah administration have taken a policy decision to disregard human rights and given the greenlight for police violence and brutality to clamp down on the peaceful protests against the unfair toll hikes.
In 2001, Suhakam after an intensive review made detailed recommendations to the Government to relax restrictions imposed on the right to peacefully assemble which “will go a long way to ease public discontent as it provides an avenue for the public to voice their concerns and exercise their right to free speech”.
It made short-term and long-term recommendations to the Government, including allowing assemblies in stadiums, halls and private properties to be approved as a general rule without restrictions on freedom of expression, the identification of public places for the holding of public assemblies and review of police methods of crowd control and dispersal to ensure that they comply with human rights sensitivities and standards.
In 2005, the Royal Police Commission in its report to create world-class police service, recommended that one of three top priorities of the police force must be to comply with prescribed laws and human rights. It stressed that the fundamental right to hold assemblies, meetings and processions “is one of the most basic and indispensable of the fundamental freedoms necessary for the functioning of a democratic society and is provided for in the Federal Constitution” and proposed reforms to uphold and respect the right of assembly of Malaysians.
But from the police brutalities and crackdowns in the two peaceful assemblies protesting against the unfair toll hikes, it would appear that both the Suhakam and Royal Police Commission Reports proposing reforms for the police to be human rights-sensitive and to respect the right of assembly of Malaysians have been completely jettisoned.
Is Malaysia returning to the period where police brutalities and violation of human rights are routine occurrences? Recently, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, even the Official Secrets Act have been invoked marking a rising tide of repression in the Abdullah premiership.
Will the Internal Security Act be the next draconian law to be invoked and is a second Operation Lalang of mass ISA arrests of opposition, critics and dissent of the Abdullah administration already on the cards?