Maria: Punish parties who put up flags early

Former Bersih leader condemns arrest of three women, says action should be taken against parties instead.

PETALING JAYA: The police have been accused of attempting to frighten citizens before the election campaign, by taking action against three women said to have cut down Barisan Nasional flags on Tuesday.

Former Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah said action should have been taken against the political parties who had put up the flags in violation of election laws.

She said today: “There was no reason for the women to be arrested and placed in custody. I strongly condemn the action by the police. This is an attempt to frighten honest citizens just before GE14.”

Campaigning in Malaysia’s 14th general election officially gets under way on April 28 with the nomination of candidates. Polling is on May 9.

Maria resigned from the Bersih electoral reform group this month to contest as a Pakatan Harapan candidate. She said the three women should have contacted the local authorities instead of taking down the flags themselves.

The women, in their 30s were alleged to have used scissors to cut down Barisan Nasional flags in the Taman Tun Dr Ismail housing estate. Police have said they were taken to Jinjang lockup under the Penal Code for causing mischief.

However, Maria pointed out that it was an election offence to put up posters, flags and banners before the campaign period, unless a permit had been issued. Those who had put up the flags should have been charged under advertisement or vandalism by-laws of the Federal Territory.

“The authorities must answer why they have chosen to ignore political parties that put up these political flags before the nomination date. The Election Commission and the police need to be clear what the laws are and not set their own rules,” she said.