KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — The inspector-general of police (IGP) should ensure that a purported probe into youth-led initiative Parlimen Digital does not continue as no laws have been breached with the simulation of a virtual Parliament session, DAP MP Ramkarpal Singh said today.
Ramkarpal, who is DAP legal bureau chairman and also a lawyer, said the police’s reported contacting of several participants of the Parlimen Digital programme yesterday was uncalled for.
He said the police’s reported action of having contacted the youth could be seen as an “act of intimidation” of a peaceful initiative aimed at encouraging youth empowerment.
“I cannot see how such a programme has breached any law and as such, the police certainly have no business interfering in the same,” the Bukit Gelugor MP said in a statement today.
“It is disturbing that there exists such intolerance in this day and age and there can be no justification in striking fear in the organisers and participants of the programme, particularly when it actually promotes intelligent discourse unless of course, the intention of such investigations by the police is to stifle freedom of speech and valid criticism of the government which may occur as a result of the debates in the programme,” he added.
Ramkarpal reiterated that the Parlimen Digital programme did not break any laws.
“The organisers and participants should not be intimidated by such investigations as they have no reason to be, since no laws have been breached.
“Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador must explain why such an investigation has commenced and ensure an end to it immediately,” he added.
Yesterday, Malaysiakini reported Parlimen Digital’s organisers as claiming that the police had contacted several participants in the programme after its virtual Parliament sitting yesterday to ask for their personal details and enquire about the event, but with none of the organising committee contacted by the police then.
Organisers ask police to make direct contact
In a statement today, Parlimen Digital’s secretariat touched on the challenges faced by the two-day online programme that ended today, noting in particular the police’s reported actions such as allegedly calling up some youth to be quizzed without a lawyer present.
“There were concerns raised by the participants of attempts by individuals identified as policemen who approached participants of Parlimen Digital. Some participants have been called into police stations for questioning without legal counsel, while some were invited out for casual discussions,” the secretariat said.
Pointing out that Parlimen Digital is meant to be a “safe space” for Malaysia’s youth to debate pressing issues affecting youth and to propose their ideas for a better Malaysia irrespective of their background, the organisers highlighted that its participants had met elected lawmakers from both the ruling coalition and federal Opposition for guidance in preparation for the mock Parliament sitting.
The organisers said all information regarding Parlimen Digital’s topics and debates are under their sole control and direction and can be found online on its website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“For any clarifications and request for information, we urge the police to contact us, the organisers. We are grateful for the support of many who responded with offers of assistance and expressions of solidarity. We cannot thank you enough,” the secretariat said.
The secretariat also expressed its desire to work together with the police for the youth initiative.
“As young people who aspire to make a difference to the country, we do realise and learned from this experience that in the future we do hope to engage the police earlier to ease them of any concerns they may have and we invite youth from the police academy to join us in future events,” it said.