KOTA KINABALU: Police detained eight activists highlighting issues in Sabah after they held a demonstration at the busy Sunday Market here.
Witnesses said policemen arrived at the scene at about 10am, roughly an hour after the group started gathering.
They said the small group, including the eight who were eventually arrested, were well-behaved as they strolled through the Gaya Street market while playing musical instruments.
The demonstration, dubbed “Hari Malaysia Gathering: Pandang ke Sabah (Malaysia Day Gathering: Look Towards Sabah)”, was meant to draw the government’s attention towards their 10 demands for the state.
They called on the government to provide better education, eradicate poverty, respect native land, and provide more job opportunities and more housing for the people.
They also demanded an end to the stateless people issue, the need for a better public transportation system and highlighted environmental and security concerns, including in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) area.
Pictures of the eight men being arrested have gone viral.
Among those arrested was Sabah Amanah youth chief Mohd Khairuddin Daud. They were brought to the Karamunsing police station to have their statements recorded.
Meanwhile, Sabah Bersih 2.0 chairman Beverly Joeman was dismayed at the arrest and urged the police to release the eight immediately.
“The police should no longer use the Peaceful Assembly Act as a reason to stop any gathering of the people as they should respect Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and the spirit of the New Malaysia which promised to be more democratic and guarantees the freedom of speech,” she said.
She said the police’s action is a step backwards and showed that the government was not serious in listening to the voice of the people.
The police did not reply to requests for comments.