Teacher among latest LTTE-linked arrests

Principal assistant director of the Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) of the Special Branch Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay speaks during a press conference at Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur October 13, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Principal assistant director of the Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) of the Special Branch Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay speaks during a press conference at Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur October 13, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — A school teacher is among the five people arrested recently on suspicion of involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Bukit Aman's Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division (E8) chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said they were in addition to the seven people arrested on October 10.

“The first arrest involves a suspect who was detained at Teluk Panglima Garang. A male suspect aged 52 years’ old and works as a teacher in a school in Banting, Selangor.

“The suspect was involved in supporting and promoting the terror group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, via social media,” Ayob said, adding that LTTE-related material was found in the man’s house.

Ayob said the five, all Malaysians, were suspected of promoting, instigating and encouraging funding for the LTTE in addition to owning material related to group.

In the press conference, Ayob said that the LTTE-linked movements have divisions in every state, and the police had to act to prevent more divisions and member recruitment activities.

When asked as to how funds were being channelled to the movements, Ayob said that it mostly involved bank accounts of the suspects themselves.

“We are not sure if there are foreign funds coming in. Investigations are still at an early stage,” he added.

Ayob said that the police have also been cracking down on LTTE-related activities since the 1990s, and the operation is purely on the basis of national security.

Last week, the police detained seven people on the suspicion of being involved with LTTE activities in Malaysia, including DAP’s Gadek assemblyperson G. Saminathan and Seremban Jaya assemblyperson P. Gunasekaran.

This brings the total number of arrests to 12, with all detainees being held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which Pakatan Harapan (PH) had previously pledged to abolish.

Human rights lawyer Datuk S. Ambiga had however, expressed worry over the crackdown, suggesting that the two assemblymen should have instead only be summoned to have their statements recorded, Malaysiakini reported.

“For me, Sosma is out. There is no need to use Sosma on two assemblypersons, for goodness sake.

“Just call them in for questioning if you have to. So, I’m appalled this is happening under this government. Appalled,” Malaysiakini reported Ambiga saying.

However, Ayob today sought to differ from Ambiga’s stand, saying that the use of Sosma is warranted as the police need to carry out follow-up investigations to gather more evidence, and conduct raids.

He said that the police were only able to detect large monetary transactions involving the detained suspects after follow-up investigations, and that it was important therefore to have the suspects detained, as per the law.

“This is a security offence. So imagine if we only call them to have their statements recorded. Would they cooperate? We need to secure their handphones, their laptops. We need to conduct raids. I am confident that if we only called them to have their statements taken, they would only give surface-level statements.

“We would not have the rights to confiscate their handphones, we won’t have right to raid their homes,” he said, adding that detention is also mandatory for security-related offences.

“If we do not detain, then how else to secure these things?” he asked, adding that this was why Sosma also allows for a 28-day detention.

Ayob however added that detainees can have access to their family members and lawyers after the initial 48 hours of arrest.

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