Student activist Wong Yan Ke denies obstructing police following arrest, says had every right to record raid

Student activist Wong Yan Ke, who is former president of the University of Malaya Association of New Youth, denied any wrongdoing over the act of recording a video of the incident.― File picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Student activist Wong Yan Ke, who is former president of the University of Malaya Association of New Youth, denied any wrongdoing over the act of recording a video of the incident.― File picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — Student activist Wong Yan Ke — who is also a Universiti Malaya graduate — has explained why he recorded a purported police raid and how it led to his arrest, while also denying that he had obstructed the police from carrying out their duties.

Wong, who is former president of the University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany), said he had at around 3.15pm on November 7 (Saturday) received a message from Umany’s current president Yap Wen Qing.

According to Wong, the message stated that there was a group of unidentified persons in plain clothes who had verbally stated their intention to forcibly enter his residence via the main door.

Wong said he had then gone with a lawyer to the scene of the incident to provide support, before noting that he had proceeded to video record the raid which also was streamed ‘live’ on Facebook.

He reasoned that he had decided to do so as he was unable to confirm the alleged policemen’s identities at the time and as a precaution against any vigilantes.

“In order to ensure my junior’s safety, I started FB live recording the scene for three reasons:

(A) We could not identify their identities: this group of men claiming to be police did not wear police uniforms, and some of them even wore only ordinary T-shirts. Their vehicle was a car with black tints, and there was no police badge on it.

“(B) UMANY members have been intimidated: Many UMANY members received harassing calls, while many cyber troopers threatened to search UMANY members on social media and harass them. Since there have been many cases in Malaysia whereby people pretended to be police officers, we were worried that they might be criminals who pretended to be police officers and try to take the law into their own hands.

“(C) As evidence in court: Regardless of whether these men are police officers or not, if they abuse their power, violate SOPs, or infringe on Yap Wen Qing’s fundamental human rights and freedom, video recording may be the most effective evidence,” Wong said in a statement dated yesterday (November 8) and made available today.

“After I recorded the video for about two and a half minutes, I was pushed by three sturdy men to the wall, handcuffed, brought into a police car and taken to the Petaling Police Station,” he said of his November 7 arrest.

Wong said he was subsequently accompanied by human rights lawyer Rajsurian Pillai to the Damansara police station, where he gave his statement to the police while handcuffed. Wong said he gave his full cooperation to the police.

“Unfortunately, I learned that the high-level officer asked for detention and transferred me to the detention centre,” he said, adding that the police then questioned him for the second time at 11.30am the next morning (November 8), with the police questioning ending at around 12.30pm.

Wong however denied any wrongdoing over the act of recording a video of the incident, stating: “I categorically deny all allegations made by the police, and I have never obstructed the police from doing their duty. No matter physically or verbally, I didn’t take any actions that obstructed the police’s law enforcement process. What I did was merely recording a video.”

Wong then went on to say that the police must always ensure their use of force is proportionate, arguing that the police as a law enforcement agency cannot use excessive violence when enforcing the law.

“I was unarmed and had neither obstructed the police officers nor caused any threat to the police. 

“There was no need for the police to subdue me with such excessive force, and to put me in handcuffs and escorted me to the police station. The police over-enforced the law, and the arbitrary arrest and detention against me were disproportionate and unnecessary,” said Wong, who was reportedly released yesterday on police bail.

Wong asserted that citizens have the right to record any law enforcement process and to monitor law enforcement agencies, arguing that the police should be monitored by the public when they enforce the law due to their overarching powers.

“The police in the United States and the United Kingdom will wear cameras to prevent excessive law enforcement and abuse of power. As long as the police follow the SOPs, there is no need to worry about people’s cameras. 

“Besides, the salaries of the police are paid by taxpayers, and their primary duty is to protect the people and enforce the law according to law, rather than intimidating people in an uncivilised manner, suppressing students or social activists, and attempting to create white terror,” he said.

Wong noted that the police will at noon today summon six of the current Umany executive committee to the Kajang police district headquarters for questioning.

He called on civil society groups to come out in solidarity with the students, urging for the public to jointly preserve freedom of speech and academic freedom.

Yesterday, Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Fadzil Ahmat confirmed the arrest of a 24-year-old on the suspicion of obstructing police duties by using his mobile phone to record a raid on a house in Petaling Jaya.

The raid by the Kajang district police headquarters was in relation to a sedition investigation on Umany, while the sedition investigation was reportedly over Umany’s statement regarding the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s role.

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