KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar cautioned a DAP lawmaker’s aide tonight against going overboard with his criticism of the string of arrests after this afternoon’s May Day rally.
The national police chief insisted on microblogging site Twitter that his officers were merely performing their duties by hauling up troublemakers who were seen using smoke bombs during the protest against the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“Elok Saudara @jayjaydenis berhati2 membuat tuduhan melampau terhadap @PDRMsia yg menjlnkan t’jawap menjaga keamanan,” Khalid wrote using the Twitter handle @KBAB1.
[Translation: Best for @jayjaydenis to be careful when making extreme allegations against the police, who were merely carrying out their duty to maintain public peace]
Khalid said this in response to an earlier tweet by Jay Jay Denis, the research officer of DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago, who had accused the police of terrorising Malaysians with the mass arrests.
“In another move to terrorise the people of Malaysia, @KBAB51 and @PDRMsia have begun mass arrests. Yet again. Up to 54 detained #BantahGST,” the aide had written, using his handle @jayjaydenis.
In another reply to the DAP aide, Khalid posted two pictures on his page, one showing graffiti on a metal hoarding and another showing protesters engulfed in a cloud of orange smoke.
“@jayjaydenis Who is terrorising our streets. @PDRMsia ?” Khalid asked.
In his response, Denis insisted that he will stand by his remarks.
“Saya tetap dengan kenyataan tadi. IGP perlu terus terang tentang sebab tahanan. Mengapa layanan berbeza protes lain?” he asked.
[Translation: I stand firm by my statement earlier. The IGP must explain the reasons for the arrests. Why are other protests treated differently?]
Police have confirmed arresting a total of 29 protesters who were picked up over two hours after the anti-GST rally in the city ended.
They also confirmed seizing several smoke bombs from protesters.
“We arrested 29 people, one of which is a woman. They are aged 17 to 41-years-old,” KL CID chief Senior Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad was quoted by The Star Online as saying tonight, adding that police will seek remand orders tomorrow.
The 29 were arrested under Sections 143, 427 and 448 of the Penal Code, Section 4 of the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act.
Section 143 states that those who are members of an unlawful assembly shall be punished with a maximum six-month jail term or a fine or both.
Earlier tonight, Negara-ku patron and rights activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan confirmed with Malay Mail Online that the police had called her in for questioning over her participation in the rally.
She also said that she was informed that she would be held overnight. Ambiga, who is also the former Bar Council president, later turned up at the station to be questioned.
Others who have been hauled up include Parti Sosialis Malaysia secretary-general S. Arutchelvan, PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang, Jingga 12 coordinator Fariz Musa and DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke.
The rally by civil society movement #KitaLawan kicked off shortly after 2.30pm this afternoon from several meeting points and drew a reported crowd of nearly ten thousand participants to the streets of the capital.
There has been no report of injuries or casualties arising from the rally, that is said to have progressed peacefully in a march by a sea of thousands of Malaysians clothed in red and black.
After the event, however, police claimed on their official Facebook account that he rally was not fully under control, citing incidents of alleged vandalism and smoke bombs being thrown by the protesters to back up its claim.
The police also said protesters had brought children to the rally - an offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act.