Parti Sosialis Malaysia says the government is using trumped-up charges to arrest Bersih supporters and to intimidate them.
KUALA LUMPUR: What will the government come up with next? It has used the communist bogeyman theory and a charge of using T-shirts to wage war against the King. Perhaps, its next course of action will be the tried and tested spectre of “May 13 riots”.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is at a loss for words at the government’s actions as 30 of its activists were arrested on trumped-up charges.
PSM chairman Nasir Hashim said the government has lost the plot and it is coming with excuses just to arrest Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) supporters.
“You can’t use this kind of stupid reason to arrest us… waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. I think the government should use a better reason,” Nasir told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
He was referring to the arrests of 30 PSM activists, including Sungai Siput MP D Jeyakumar, for being in possession of T-shirts with communist leaders’ faces on them.
After arresting them in Penang, the police remanded them under Section 122 of the Penal Code for waging war against the king.
“Using these T-shirts to wage war against the king, what kind of story is this? I think something is wrong with the mentality of the government,” Nasir added.
According to PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan, the activists were at the time running their “Udahlah, Bersaralah” (Enough already – Retire now) roadshow campaign.
The campaign, he said, had nothing to do with Bersih 2.0′s upcoming July 9 “Walk for Democracy” Kuala Lumpur rally.
“This campaign has nothing to do with Bersih, even though PSM fully supports Bersih,” Arutchelvan said.
He also denied that the PSM roadshow was a precursor to the July 9 rally, which is expected to see the attendance of around 100,000 protesters.
Using communism as scapegoat
Arutchelvan said that the “Udahlah, Bersaralah” campaign started in February, well before Bersih’s rally announcement.
The PSM leader was convinced that the government was using communism as a scapegoat to target PSM, or Bersih supporters.
He said this contrasted with Malaysia’s ongoing political relationship with communist countries such as China, Vietnam and Cuba.
“This communist (excuse) is outdated and has been used countless times. Anyone who they want to punish, they will accuse as communist,” he said.
PAS Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar said that the government contradicted itself when it had signed a peace treaty with the Malayan Communist Party many years ago.
“I wonder whether the government is aware, with (Home Minister) Hishammuddin (Hussein) in charge, that the police action (against PSM) is contradictory with what has been done by the government,” he said.
Mahfuz said that the government through this action, and its opposition to Bersih, gave Malaysia a bad name.
PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that she, along with other Pakatan Rakyat MPs, expected to see more arrests on the way.
Ridiculing the government’s attempts at connecting PSM with the Al-Maunah terrorist group, she said: “This clampdown on PSM activists smacks of a government that is bent on silencing political dissent.”
She also said that calls made by the authorities, particularly Hishammuddin’s threat of using the Internal Security Act, was only the beginning.
“We do expect more arrests, and that’s why we are coming out with a strong statement today to… give a sort of warning to the government of the day: do not continue this clampdown.”
“It is ridiculous and the people will not have it,” Nurul said.