By Kuek Ser Kuang Keng | Malaysiakini
The six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) last Saturday were not allowed to meet their counsels today.
After a one-hour negotiation with the legal team at Bukit Aman federal police headquarters, police only agreed to consider the counsel’s demand to meet the detainees tomorrow afternoon — the first time since their arrest two days ago — to sign their affidavit for a habeas corpus application.
“The police refused to give an immediate answer, but they said they will get back to us in the evening,” lawyer Edmund Bon (centre in photo) said after meeting the police.
He revealed that a habeas corpus application will be filed tomorrow or Wednesday, demanding a court order to release the detainees.
The five-lawyer team, including Amer Hamzah and K. Arumugam, went to Bukit Aman this afternoon together with some 20 family members of the detainees.
Bon said they were flabbergasted and extremely disappointed with the “total abuse of power” by the police.
“Yesterday we wrote to the police stressing that all people have the right to legal access under the federal constitution. They are not a threat to national security, there is no proof found. They are activists of a legal political party.
“Initially we demanded to meet them for half an hour but it was rejected by police. So we asked for 10 minutes and then even five minutes, just to see how are they, but it was completely rejected,” he claimed.
“This shows that the police had made up their mind to deny all the detainees’ rights before seeing us.”
The police also declined to state the specific reason behind the detention other than they are a threat to national security, said Bon.
Bon told reporters that should the police disallow them from meeting with the detainees tomorrow, they would have no choice but get the family members to file affidavits for the habeas corpus application, which could be challenged by the government in court.
“Although the family members can file affidavits if we can’t get the detainees, we must give reasons to the court.”
Family also denied access
Since their arrest last Saturday, the police have also refused to allow the detainees to meet with family members, some of whom had travelled from Perak.
According to a Bernama report, a Bukit Aman spokesman said on the night of their arrest that family members only can see the detainees today.
The six, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, were among 50 people detained at the Sungai Dua toll plaza in Kepala Batas, Penang on June 25 under section 122 of the Penal Code for allegedly attempting to wage war against the king.
After their remand expired on June 30, they were re-arrested under section 2(1) of the Emergency Ordinance 1969.
Police alleged the six were suspected to be involved with foreign elements and had subversive tendencies.
Bon added that the use of EO, an archaic law introduced in the 1960s to counter terrorists and gangsters, against the six was extremely unreasonable and could turn Malaysia into a police state as well as a laughing stock of international society.
He pointed out that the EO has the exact same provisions as the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), including a 60-day detention without trial and indefinite extensions of two-year detention orders upon approval by the home minister.
“Whatever the ISA has, the EO has. In fact, the EO is worse than the ISA because there are over 1,000 detainees held under the EO at Simpang Renggam, many more than at Kamunting,” said the young lawyer.
The family members, who had waited for almost three hours at the guardhouse of the police headquarters, were also disappointed with the police’s decision.
One of them was N. Sasintharadevi, 27, niece of PSM deputy president M. Sarasvathy.
“I’m very worried about her health and safety. I suspect the police had assaulted them. I want to see her because I have to inform other family members about her situation, they are asking ‘how is she?’,” she told Malaysiakini, adding that Sarasvathy was down with fever when she joined the campaign which led to her arrest.
“I think the police must be afraid. I believe they have done something to the six detainees, otherwise why they didn’t allow us to see them? I want to know what had happened inside there.”
Teo Shee Juan (left in photo), who represented the family of PSM central committee member Choo Chon Kai, stressed that the police have no reason to detain the six.
“This has violated the rights of a political party. They were just doing what they are supposed to do. They should be released immediately,” said the father, who was carrying his two-year-old daughter.
“We don’t even know for a fact whether they are here or not. The lawyers can’t even just see them to make sure that they were not tortured. This is a scary situation,” said J Sangeetha, a niece of Jeyakumar.
“Even a murderer or thief has access to a lawyer, why can’t a political detainee?” she asked angrily.