The 19-year-old who turned herself in to police yesterday said she did not know the act was seditious, and the photo was already on the floor.
Ong Sing Yee, 19, who was arrested and handcuffed when she surrendered to the police in Johor Baru yesterday, claimed that her act was not ill-intended.
“I was only curious when I saw [the] other doing that, so I followed suit. I did not know it was seditious,” she said, reading out a scripted statement during a press conference at the DAP headquarters here.
When asked later who was she tending her apology to, she said “to the public”.
DAP lawyer Eric Tan, who was present, quickly added that the public “includes the prime minister”.
Ong said she neither owns the photo nor harbours feeling of hatred towards the prime minister.
Asked why she attended the rally, she said she was on a trip from Johor Baru to Kuala Lumpur with friends.
Ong’s friend, 20-year-old Lim Kian Peng, said they wanted to visit a water-themed park in Petaling Jaya but arrived in Kuala Lumpur late.
“We checked into a hotel in Ampang, and was informed by our friends that there was a Merdeka eve celebration at Dataran Merdeka,” Lim said.
When asked why she was spotted wearing a DAP yellow shirt, Ong she said she bought it on the spot.
Among others, they had allegedly breached the Sedition Act for either waving a flag similar to a Singapore flag (Sang Saka Malaya), flashing their bare buttocks or stepping on the photos of the prime minister.
Ong turned herself in to the Johor Baru Sentral police station yesterday morning, but was later handcuffed and brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters here for her statement to be recorded.
Lim, who accompanied Ong, was also detained after he told the police that he was also in the rally.
The two arrived here under police custody at 10pm, and were released on police bail five hours later.
Meanwhile, Ong claimed that she was asked to sign a document, suspected to be a letter of admission to the offence, in Johor Baru.
However, Tan said the document would be weak evidence even it is brought to court as Ong had signed it without understanding the contents and without a lawyer.
Ong and Lim were supposed to report to the investigation officers on Oct 2.
Meanwhile, commenting on the police action yesterday, Tan criticised them for being “wholly unprofessional” for arresting Lim, who was not even involved in the stepping incident.
“Besides, Ong was very cooperative and the crime she was involved in was not violent. I can’t really see the reason why there was no investigating officer in Johor Baru who could record her statement,” he said.
Case of double standard
Tan said that it was also a clear case of double standard when the police chose to act against those who humiliated the prime minister, but not those who did the same to the Pakatan Rakyat state leaders.
“Ong was investigated under Section 3(1)(a) of the Sedition Act, which was defined as having seditious tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any ruler or against any government.
“If this is the case, the police should also investigate the circumstances under which Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat were humiliated,” he said.
In another development, DAP’s MP for Puchong Gobind Singh Deo hit out at the police for using handcuffs on Ong when she was arrested yesterday.
He said that handcuffs were usually used to restrain a person and that such a restraint was not usually required unless the suspect or accused was violent or has committed a crime of violence or there is a likelihood he may attempt to escape.
“None of the above circumstances were evident in the case of this girl. There was really therefore, no need for the police to use handcuffs on her,” he said in a statement today.
KL police chief Mohmad Salleh had defended his men on the handcuffs issue by saying that in any arrest, the suspect must be handcuffed.