Sarawak NGO unhappy cops want statement on independence day event

Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (Sapa) president Dominique Ng (second from right), Parti Bumi Kenyalang president Voon Lee Shan (third from right), prominent lawyer Milton Too (fourth from right) and other Sapa and Sarawak for Sarawakians supporters at the police station in Kuching today.

KUCHING: Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (Sapa) president Dominique Ng has urged police to explain why they were called in to make statements on Sarawak’s independence day celebrations at the Central Padang.

If an offence had been committed, he said police could have informed them earlier.

“Statements are taken from a suspect only when a crime has been committed.

“None of us here are criminals. We are lawyers. We know the law and respect the law,” he told reporters at the police station here today.

Despite having a police permit and state government approval to hold the event, Ng said a police report had been lodged against them.

“We had fulfilled all the requirements and, to my knowledge, we have not breached any of the conditions,” he said.

He said the event had taken place peacefully without any incident.

Ng said this was not the first time a police report had been lodged against them for organising an event.

“We had a small rally on April 28 this year at the Central Padang on the amendment to the Federal Constitution. Despite having obtained a police permit, a report was still lodged by the Sentral police station police chief (OCS).

“What is the purpose of giving us permission to hold an event if the police themselves lodge a report against us later?”

He said he had been raising the Sarawak and Malaysia flags on Sept 16 every year after the federal government decided to recognise Malaysia Day.

“Every year, the police lodge a report against me but they have never asked me to go to the station to have my statement taken.

“Only in this ‘New Malaysia’ has this happened. It will happen every time we organise a public rally at the Central Padang,” he said, adding that police had refused to disclose the identity of the person who lodged the report this time.

Ng feels police could have made the recent report.

“I also believe what has happened today is an infringement of the United Nations’ principle on police action as it is clearly stated that no member of the police may be ordered or forced to exercise his or her functions or powers or deploy police resources to promote or undermine any political party or interest group or any member of such a party or group.

“So, the police should not be used to undermine the activities of any group like Sapa or Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S), especially when we organise any activity for Sarawak’s independence day,” he said.

‘Form of harassment’

Meanwhile, Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan urged Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg to issue an official statement to stop any form of harassment by the authorities against state activists.

“We are Sarawakians and he (Abang Johari) is our chief minister. Therefore, he should protect our interests.”

He said Sapa had received a police permit and state government approval to hold celebrations at the Central Padang on July 22.

“This shows that the organisers had received support from the state government.

“If the activists are required to have their statements taken by the police, then I’m asking the authorities concerned whether they should also call the chief minister and Sarawak’s governor for their statements as well.

“I also urge the police or the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to respect our civil rights to celebrate Sarawak’s independence day as it has great significance to the people in Sarawak,” he said.

“If Sarawakians are not allowed to celebrate our independence day, there is no reason for them to celebrate Merdeka Day on Aug 31.

“It is not significant to Sarawakians at all as it is Malaya’s independence day and not ours. We should just focus on Sarawak’s independence day,” he said.

Voon warned the authorities that the people in Sarawak would rise up against Malaysia if they keep acting this way.

Meanwhile, Milton Foo, a prominent lawyer, who was present at the press conference, said he could not see why Ng was required to have his statement taken by the police over the recent event since Sapa had fulfilled all the necessary requirements.

“We cannot afford to have any form of power abuse by any authority.

“I’m not implicating the police but I’m referring to any authority who is trying to make use of the law to intimidate us or any social movement voicing the people’s wishes,” he said.