KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — Senator P. Waytha Moorthy issued today a stern statement against the extended remand of radio personality Patrick Teoh, saying it signalled the return of authoritarian rule of previous Barisan Nasional administrations.
The former minister criticised the police for seeking to extend Teoh’s remand order to six days, questioning why the authorities needed to hold the radio personality for more than three days.
Directing his criticism at Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Pitchay, Waytha Moorthy called the reason the latter gave to justify pursuing a remand extension “pathetic”, inexcusable and suggested that the authorities were abusing the process to intimidate the suspect.
Ayob Khan asserted on Monday that Teoh, facing investigation for allegedly insulting the Johor Royal Family, was “uncooperative” during the three days he was detained.
“The purpose of remand extension is very clear, ie to enable police to investigate and not to enable police to complete investigations on flimsy grounds as stated by Ayob Khan,” the senator said.
“The right to extend remand proceedings must be done in accordance with the law and not at the whim and fancy of the police. The excuse ‘to complete investigations’ clearly shows Ayob Khan is admitting to police inefficiency, which is pathetic.”
Teoh, 73, was remanded in Johor Bahru for three days starting Sunday. He was detained by the state police after two men, a software developer and contractor, lodged two separate reports claiming that Teoh had insulted the Crown Prince Tunku Ismail.
The police reports were lodged on Friday.
Teoh’s remand was extended today.
Teoh’s detention has drawn widespread criticism. Human rights lawyers said the arrest was an infringement on the radio personality’s right to free speech, while others have warned about the potential return of oppressive politics.
In the past, the judiciary and watchdogs have taken the Malaysian police to task over its disregard for civil rights, often pointing to the arbitrary arrests and justification to hold probed suspects in longer periods as a way to intimidate detainees, especially political dissenters
Senator P. Waytha Moorthy, in making the same allegation, argued that Teoh has the right to remain silent even under investigation, and that police application to lengthen the interrogation was meant to cow the personality into submission.
“72 hours of holding a suspect is very long and with the entire might of the police machinery, they must firstly justify to the court what was done during this period,” Waytha Moorthy said.
“I dread the thought this is oppression on Patrick’s right to remain silent.
“Time and again we see abuses of police during remand proceedings and extensions which have caused great injustices to suspects.”
On Saturday, a police team from the Johor police Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID), picked-up Teoh from the Petaling Jaya police headquarters and his Armanee Terrace apartment unit in Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya was searched.
Police seized Teoh’s Apple MacBook Air during the search and there was no mobile phone on him as he claimed to have lost it the day before.
Teoh’s arrest was after he had alleged to have posted an obscene sentence when he shared a video where Tunku Ismail was seen firing automatic firearms as part of his Johor Military Force (JMF) training exercises.