KOTA KINABALU: Political party MUDA and two non-governmental organisations have slammed the police for arresting activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza as well as seven people protesting outside Kampung Muhibbah Raya in Tawau, Sabah.
MUDA’s pro tem secretary-general Amir Hariri Abdul Hadi said the detention of those involved was proof that the current government did not respect the people’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.
He said the government had also failed to implement effective standard operating procedures while protecting the public’s welfare.
Amir urged the police to release the seven people detained during a demonstration in Tawau yesterday. Fahmi was released from remand yesterday evening after a day in detention.
“Kampung Muhibbah Raya has been placed under enhanced movement control order (EMCO) for more than two weeks due to the spread of Covid-19.
“However, they have not been given any welfare aid and this has impacted their livelihoods,” Amir said in a statement yesterday, adding that their protest was legitimate.
Meanwhile, electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 said the back-to-back arrest of activists was against Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
In a statement, its steering committee said the protests showed that Malaysians were becoming increasingly desperate with the current situation, adding that the government must listen to the concerns of the people.
Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Pembangunan Masyarakat Sabah chairman Razeef Rakimin stressed that holding a demonstration was not a crime.
“The demonstration (in Tawau) symbolised the voices of residents in the area, who wanted the government to lift the EMCO as long as their welfare continued to be neglected,” he said when contacted by FMT.
Razeef said the police should have monitored the incident to ensure it was a peaceful demonstration that practised physical distancing, rather than arresting the protesters straight away.