AG urged to drop charges against activists who defended Penang flat dwellers

PSM’s Choo Chon Kai (left), activist Karthiges Rajamanickam (centre) and secretary-general A Sivarajan at the AG’s office in Putrajaya today.

PUTRAJAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to drop charges against two of its activists who “defended” families from being evicted from Penang public housing flats last year, saying the police should focus on bigger cases instead.

PSM leader S Arutchelvan questioned the need to pursue the case as the matter had been resolved and there was no element of the use of physical force or rough language.

He said the case involving Karthiges Rajamanickam and Nathan Munusamy, for obstructing a public officer from discharging his duties, was scheduled to continue in July.

“Why do police want to pursue the case? The case can be considered settled as the family has been offered alternative housing at Seberang Perai. There was no element of roughness reported on that day.

“They were just consulting with the authorities due to the housing issue, so why continue with the case?” he told reporters today, after submitting a memorandum to a representative from the AG’s office.

Karthiges and Nathan have been charged with obstructing a public officer from discharging his duties under the Penal Code.

The first hearing was held on May 9 and 10, but was postponed to July as the deputy public prosecutor had applied to submit new evidence.

Since November last year, PSM has been helping affected families at the government-owned low-cost flats at Rifle Range, Air Itam, to continue staying there although they were issued notices to vacate the units for not meeting minimum eligibility requirements.

On June 6, Karthiges led a protest at the lobby of Komtar, where some 30 people camped with their pillows and comforters after they were forced to leave their Rifle Range homes.

The Penang government said the affected families had been given time to look for alternative accommodation but had failed to do so. An official said they had been evicted to make way for more deserving families.

However, the state government agreed to provide temporary housing to four families in Batu Kawan, with a rent of RM170 a month, following a meeting with the activists.

Arutchelvan said: “It is not rational to go on with the case as the two activists were just defending the poor folk from being evicted from a low-cost flat. We are writing to Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to drop this case. We hope the DPP and lawyers will not waste their time on this small issue.”

Another PSM leader, Choo Chon Kai, said the two activists had only been trying to talk to state government officials to delay the process because the eviction had been done during the fasting month last year.