Malaysians have democratic rights to protest, Pakatan says amid probes on activists

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is seen in front of the Sogo shopping complex during the Save Malaysia Demonstration on March 1, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir is seen in front of the Sogo shopping complex during the Save Malaysia Demonstration on March 1, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) has thrown its support behind several activists who are being investigated for joining two separate pro-democracy rallies following the change of government.

In a statement, PH said the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin administration has in the past three days regrettably turned its back on the values instilled by former ruling coalition.

“PH stresses that Malaysian citizens have the democratic rights to assemble and state their protests, in line with the stipulated Constitutional provisions and laws,” it said.

“We request the authorities to act in a way that do not affect these democratic rights, and to prevent from any perception of interference against the three individuals.”

The pact was referring to three social activists — Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan dan Fadiah Nadwa Fikri — who are currently being investigated by the police.

Earlier today, human rights activist Nalini Elumalai said she and 13 others have been summoned to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters here over their participation in a public demonstration on Sunday.

Police said last week they have opened a sedition investigation against lawyer Fadiah, who spoke at back-to-back rallies last week to protest against the power tussle that caused the PH administration to collapse and helped install a new government led by Muhyiddin.

Protesters gather at Dataran Merdeka during a protest against Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on February 29, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Protesters gather at Dataran Merdeka during a protest against Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on February 29, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

The authorities also have also launched investigations against vocal human rights activists Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Datin Marina Mahathir after the two attended a separate gathering organised by the Save Malaysia Committee on Sunday.

Muhyiddin, who was appointed as the country’s eighth prime minister amid controversy over his nomination, is now the leader of a loose coalition called Perikatan Nasional that includes the former ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional.

The police investigations against the activists have raised concern that the new government was clamping down on dissent and signalled the return of the days of BN’s rule.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, however, pledged on Monday that the police would continue to respect the public’s right to free expression, but stressed that dissent must be within legal boundaries.

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