A city councillor of Freemantle in Western Australia, Sam Wainwright, has expressed his horror about “the terrible crackdown” on the Bersih 2.0 movement for electoral reforms and free speech that has taken place recently in Malaysia.
Wainwright (left) said one of Parti Sosialis Malaysia activists Dr Michael D Jeyakumar, who is currently detained under the Emergency Ordinance, had visited the city last year.
Wainwright added that he was privileged to have the Sungai Siput parliamentarian stay in his house during the latter’s trip to the city.
“I am horrified to see him detained without trial under the repressive law and without access to his heart medication,” he added in an e-mail to Seberang Perai Municipal (MPSP) councillor Steven Sim.
Sim (below) is Penang-based think-tank Socio-economic and Environmental Research Institute senior executive officer, and former research and project officer for Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng.
Wainwright added that he was equally horrified to have learnt that thousands of Malaysians were arrested for attending the rally on Jul 9 in Kuala Lumpur.
On the day of the rally, police firedtear gas and chemical laced water to disperse the crowd, and arrested 1667. All were released on the same night.
“On that weekend, I attended a rally here in Western Australia in support of democracy and human rights in Malaysia,” added the councillor of Hilton Ward.
“Sim, be assured that you have friends in Australia who support your struggle for democractic rights and please advise if there is anything you think I as a councillor from a sister city can do to advance that cause,” he stressed.
Freemantle city mayor Brad Pettitt (left) has also expressed his concern over Jeyakumar’s detention, which has now entered its 22nd day. He and the other activists have not been charged for any crime.
Pettitt said he has a fondness for Malaysia as he had lived in the country for several months in the late 1990s.
He added that he had recently met the Governor of Penang Abdul Rahman Abbas and Freemantle’s sister city in Seberang Perai, MPSP chief Maimunah Mohd Sharif.
“Please be assured that you have friends in Freemantle who are watching the situation closely and who support your struggle for democratic rights,” said Petitt, also in an e-mail to Sim.
The e-mails had been made available to Malaysiakini by Sim, who issued a joint statement with two other MPSP councillors – Soon Lip Chee and Oon Neow Aun – demanding the release of the six activists.
The government has justified the detention by saying that the sixwere key players of the Bersih 2.0 rally, that they were waging war against the king and propagating the Communist ideology.
However, the PSM 6 were held by police since June 30, even before the home minister had declared Bersih an illegal organisation.
The High Court in Kuala Lumpur recently allowed the government’s application to adjourn hearing the habeas corpus applications of Jeyakumar and five others who have been held since July 2.
Other than Jeyakumar, 56, the others are M. Sukumaran, 50, A. Lectchumanan, 49, R. Saratbabu, 25, Choo Choon Kai, 33 and Sarasvathy Muthu, 58.
An avalanche of support has come in for the six which includes 470 police reports lodged nationwide against their detention.
Meanwhile, the MPSP councillors urged Prime Minister Najib Razak (below) and Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein to refrain from using anti-democratic means to suppress activism.
They said the government’s excuse to further detain the six is “illogical” as the Emergency Ordinance and the fight against Communist insurgency are obsolete.
They cited historical events such as the 1989 Haatyaai Treaty between Malaysia and the Communist Party of Malaya to cease their armed struggle, the fall of the Berlin Wall in the same year and the dissolution of USSR two years later to drive in their point.
Malaysia, they added, had also assumed diplomatic ties with Communist countries like China and Cuba.
“Therefore, Malaysia is backward, battling with an enemy that does not exist and has been over its shelf life but this (appears to be) a dirty tactic to destroy the Opposition.”
The trio said that a democratic country must have an opposition voice, but the government constantly uses unfair laws like the Internal Security Act and EO to “shut the mouth of dissent”.
“This is similar to the tactics of autocratic Communist regimes which fails to respect basic human rights, for example, China,” they added.
“Overseas, Najib attempts to paint an image that the Umno-led government is democratic,” they stressed.
“However, the prime minister and his government out to be aware that with the advance of technology and globalisation, the world is watching us,” they quipped.