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KOTA KINABALU, Feb 3 — A legal team is being set up to defend the nine individuals under investigation for their alleged support of pro-secession movement Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM).
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee confirmed today that the nine are currently in the process of selecting their lawyers.
The politician said, however, that he was “not yet” a part of the legal team that will defend the group believed to be part of the controversial SSKM.
“They are choosing their lawyers and they have asked for help,” said Yong, adding that he has yet to meet with the nine since Sunday night, after their release from police custody.
Yong, whose party is known for its call for autonomy for Sabah, said he discovered from the nine that their mobile phones were confiscated when he spoke briefly to them at the Tuaran district police station on Sunday.
Nine individuals aged between 24 and 50 years were arrested in Tuaran on Sunday for handing out allegedly seditious pamphlets and mounting a signature campaign pushing for Sabah rights.
A brief commotion, including the singing of Sabah’s state anthem, took place outside the police station later when friends of the nine arrested, as well as several SAPP leaders, were denied entry.
The nine were later released on RM2,000 bail the same evening.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Zahid Hamidi had last year issued stern warnings to supporters of the call for Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia, saying those involved in any secessionist movement will face the law.
UK-based lawyer Doris Jones, who has claimed to be the person behind the SSKM social media group, defended the group’s actions and said the presence of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) during Sunday’s arrest was unnecessary.
“I declare that all our volunteers are free from arm weapons and why FRU are ready for them still in question,” she said in a Facebook post today.
Jones, who claims to be the founder of UK-based “Sabah Sarawak Union” said she found the incident “appalling,” and called on Putrajaya to bring the matter up to the International Criminal court.
State CID chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Salehhudin Abdul Rahman when contacted by Malay Mail Online this afternoon said that the police are still investigating the incident and will submit their findings to the deputy public prosecutor’s office for further action.
The case is being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act for printing, publishing, selling (or offering for sale), distribution, reproduction or importation of seditious materials.
Talk of secession became rife in August last year, with groups across several social media platforms organising themselves into a loose alliance and operating under the SSKM banner.
The movement gained traction, particularly among youths and youngsters in rural Sabah and Sarawak, who called for a review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 that saw four distinct groups: The Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo — now called Sabah — combine forces to form one nation.