KOTA KINABALU, Sept 16 — Eight participants of the “Pandang Ke Sabah” rally today were allegedly manhandled as they were arrested by local police on the morning of Malaysia Day.
One of the detainees, Mukmin Nantang, confirmed that he and seven friends were picked up by “a huge number of policemen” at Gaya Street here at around 10am during the rally.
He claimed that the participants were about to disperse after being warned by authorities, but were then “physically attacked” before they were able to do so.
“Some of the cops waved burning cigarettes in front of our faces while some others started trampling on us. Punches flew and our clothes were also ripped.
“Some managed to evade the scene but the eight of us were nabbed. It all happened so fast and there were so many of them,” he told Malay Mail, referring to the police.
Mukmin added that he received several cuts and bruises himself.
The 9am protest was co-organised by several student groups including Gagasan Mahasiswa Merdeka and was joined by almost 100 participants.
Their 10 demands include equal education rights, better public transport service and job opportunities for Sabahans.
Mukmin defended the rally, saying that they did not commit anything unlawful and that their demands were fair.
“It’s the morning of Malaysia Day, for God’s sake and it was really peaceful. We thought now that we are living in the era of Malaysia Baharu, we are free to speak our minds,” he said.
Mukmin and seven others — Syed Syaqir Adhli Syed Redzuan, Asrin Utong, Mohd Rosyaidi Abdul Latiff, Sabir Syarifuddin, Razdey Ruslin, Zulfian Ansar and Mohd Khairuddin Daud — are currently at Balai Polis Karamunsing for further investigation.
When contacted by Malay Mail, Kota Kinabalu District Police chief ACP Habibi Majinji said investigations were still ongoing.
The fate of the eight men will only be known by around 2pm, he added, but did not elaborate further.
Tonight, Padang Merdeka here will host a grand celebration of Malaysia Day.