After arrests, deputy home minister slams street protests as ‘unnecessary’

Participants of the ‘Pandang Ke Sabah’ rally are arrested by the police at Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu. — Picture via Facebook/Amir Abd Hadi
Participants of the ‘Pandang Ke Sabah’ rally are arrested by the police at Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu. — Picture via Facebook/Amir Abd Hadi

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 16 — Deputy home minister Datuk Azis Jamman has chastised the eight activists who were arrested for staging a protest earlier this morning for taking their issues to the streets on Malaysia Day.

Calling it unnecessary, the MP also said one of the activists detained, Sabah Parti Amanah Negera Youth chief Mohd Khairudin Daud, should have known better than to stage a protest without a permit.

“Why must they protest today? As part of a government-friendly party, he should’ve known to use the proper channel to air his grievances. They are part of the system now.

“Write in to us and we will facilitate a roundtable discussion. That is the way to do it. They need to discard this opposition mentality of protesting and taking to the streets,” Azis told Malay Mail when contacted.

Amanah is part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition that governs Putrajaya and Sabah.

Azis also said that police action against the group showed that security enforcers did not take political sides when it comes to the law.

Earlier today, eight participants of about 100-person crowd in the “Pandang Ke Sabah” rally, co-organised by several student groups were detained by police and allegedly manhandled while trying to disperse the crowd.

The detainees claimed to have been punched and many sustained injuries.

They were protesting for 10 demands including equal education rights, better public transport service and job opportunities for Sabahans.

Meanwhile, Sabah commissioner of police Datuk Omar Mammah denied that police had been violent with the protesters, and instead said that the group was being obstinate and refused to disperse when asked.

“I was not there but from what I was told, they were not dispersing despite being advised to repeatedly.

“They were marching with banners and under the law this is a protest, and they did not have a permit. My OCPD said that they were attracting a lot of attention. We had to stop it,” he said, using the initials for the district police chief.

When asked about claims of violence, Omar said that the police were trying to disperse the group but they were not following orders.

“What choice did we have? They refused to disperse. We were doing our job but I wouldn’t call it violence,” he said.

“Malaysia Day or not, we have to follow the law. It is a requirement that they get a permit,” said Omar when asked to comment on criticism that such an incident marred the significance of Malaysia Day.

The eight are expected to be released later today after having their statement taken.

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