‘I’ve been arrested too’: Mat Sabu defends Sabah protesters

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 — Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu has defended his party’s Sabah Youth chief’s arrest after a street protest here this morning.

The defence minister, also known as Mat Sabu, said street protests are part of a democratic nation, and he himself had been in the same position many times before, when he was part of the Opposition.

“It’s a normal thing in a democratic country. I myself have been arrested tens of times before, in the name of pursuing democracy. It’s normal, not a big deal,” he told reporters after meeting Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal here.

When asked why the group, which included Sabah Amanah Youth chief Mohd Khairudin Daud, did not air their grievances via formal channels, Mohamad said that was not an issue.

“As long as he didn’t bear arms, it’s not a problem,” he said.

Sabah Amanah chief Haris Alimudin also said that the party was aware of Khairudin’s participation, and he will not be subject to any disciplinary action by the party.

“He wanted to get his message across. It is not wrong. Both sides were doing their jobs. One was exercising his democratic rights, while the other did their job as law enforcement,” he said, referring to the police.

Earlier, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman 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 Amanah’s Mohd Khairudin should have known better than to stage a protest without a permit.

This morning, eight among a roughly 100-strong crowd in the “Pandang Ke Sabah” rally, co-organised by several student groups, were detained by police and allegedly manhandled while the latter tried to disperse the crowd.

The detainees claimed to have been punched with many sustaining injuries.

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

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