The Malaysia Day Gathering: Look Towards Sabah was a peaceful demonstration led by a few students and youth activists at Gaya Street on Sept 16. Witnesses said the activists had only strolled around with musical instruments in hand. Nothing alarming, really. Not like the recent demonstrations by Umno’s Lokman Noor Adam and Jamal Yunos.
It was therefore surprising to see the police and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) personnel arresting these activists.
Police, of course, said they did so because the activists turned violent, disobeyed their instructions and were breaking the law.
There are, however, two sides to every coin.
Human rights NGO Suaram quickly demanded that the Pakatan Harapan government investigate the arrest of the eight youth and the conduct of the police and personnel from DBKK in this matter.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said it went against the right to peaceful assembly which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution. Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said it was not wrong to protest as long as the gathering was peaceful.
Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman, however, was less sympathetic towards the activists, labelling them as still having “the opposition mentality”.
“Opposition mentality”? Wasn’t that how the Warisan supporters behaved on May 11 in the town padang when Musa Aman was sworn in before Shafie Apdal as chief minister after GE14? And who can forget what happened when Shafie was brought to court by the MACC pre-GE14? What about more recently when more than 100 Warisan supporters participated in the “Tangkap Musa” demonstration at the new court house?
What are eight activists compared to hundreds of Warisan supporters?
And by the way, before anybody else gets carried away with this “opposition mentality” thing, let me remind you that the courts have yet to decide who is the rightful chief minister of Sabah. Which means that if Musa wins the case, Warisan will technically be the opposition until such time when a new mandate is sought from the voters of Sabah, or a vote of no confidence is tabled against Musa.
Should this happen, it is my earnest hope that the supporters will not organise mass demonstrations unless, of course, you choose to reflect an “opposition mentality”.
Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.