PETALING JAYA: A storm of criticism rose today over the arrest of Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah under an anti-terrorism law, with politicians and activists calling for Maria’s immediate release as well as others detained after the Bersih 5 rally yesterday.
In separate statements, PAS, the DAP, the Aliran reform group, and an MP all accused the government of misusing the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, under which Maria was detained.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Sosma and other laws should not be misused by the government for political purposes and for matters which had nothing to do with internal security.
DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng condemned the arrests of 17 people for alleged offences relating to the Bersih rally as being “high-handed, unwarranted and arbitrary”
He said there had been no violence yesterday and the rally ended peacefully.
He said the arrests were “clearly politically motivated against the opposition” to distract attention from the Barisan Nasional’s failure to prevent the rally from gathering peacefully.
Lim also questioned the fewer number of arrests of Red Shirts supporters, saying they had threatened violence and even bloodshed.
The MP for Klang, Charles Santiago, said that Maria’s detention under Sosma was done in bad faith as she was neither a security threat nor a terrorist.
The Penang-based reform group Aliran described Maria’s detention as “horrific” and questioned the use of the security law. Aliran said Maria had been consistent in calling for electoral reforms and greater accountability on the part of the government.
“Maria has never advocated or condoned the use of violence against the government or any person, nor has she advocated any form of illegal activity to bring down the government. Malaysians should be very proud of this remarkable woman,” Aliran said.