MP slams cops for quizzing activist on LTTE-Sosma forum

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy (2nd from left) and other members of the NGO stage a silent protest outside Bukit Aman after he was called in for questioning on Tuesday.

PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP yesterday hit out at the police for questioning a human rights activist over a forum on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), saying such acts go against Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) reform agenda including the pledge for greater freedom of speech.

Charles Santiago, who is the MP for Klang, said they also give the impression that “the government is not in control over what is happening”.

“We have to look at this in the context of PH’s promise of an open society with discussion and debate that was stifled by the previous government,” said Santiago, who chairs the Dewan Rakyat Select Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

“We can see that what the police are doing is not in line with the wishes of the government. The police and government are not on the same page. The home minister has to reach out to the police and talk to them about this.”

Charles Santiago.

He was responding to Bukit Aman’s move this week to question Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy over a Nov 25 forum organised by the human rights NGO titled “The LTTE conundrum and Sosma and a draconian law”.

Doraisamy was questioned for about an hour by the Classified Criminal Investigation Unit.

Santiago, who was one of the forum speakers, said they had only been holding discussions.

“Society progresses based on open discussion and a participatory democracy process,” he added.

Doraisamy, who has been at Suaram for nearly five years, said he had been called in for questioning “four or five times” when Barisan Nasional was in power and “six or seven times” after PH took over in the May 9 general election last year.

The November forum followed the arrest of 12 men in October who were detained under Sosma for alleged links to LTTE. It was part of Suaram’s push for the repeal of Sosma, which allows for detention without trial.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, a network of 81 civil society organisations from 21 countries, also condemned the authorities’ repeated questioning of Doraisamy.

It said in a statement that the use of laws and policies to create fear and deter civil society from speaking up could “never be justified in any democratic nation”.

It added that Doraisamy’s case “further proves the assertion of Suaram that despite PH’s initial promises of reform, the rights of Malaysians are no better or worse than under the previous government”.