(Used by permission)
Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan today criticised the arrest of the
council’s human rights committee chairperson Edmund Bon, labeling the arrest as
"bullying tactics" by the police.
Edmund was arrested this afternoon for allegedly impeding Kuala Lumpur City Hall
(DBKL) officers from performing their duty in removing banners outside the
Malaysian Bar headquarters.
Ambiga believed that DBKL had "intent to disrupt such an innocent event".
"To me, if you put (banners) up in your own premises then I'd like to see what
law it is that they are (invoking) to take it down, particularly when the
banners were things like 'No to corruption'," she said at a press conference
held after an emergency council meeting.
The banners were placed in place to celebrate the council’s 'Festival of Rights'
in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day, which falls tomorrow.
The venue for the festival was relocated from Central Market to the Bar’s own
building after police insisted that the Bar apply for a permit.
Ambiga also expressed her shock at the police's action in arresting eight people
who participated in a march this morning.
"We called off our walk in good faith and certainly didn't expect this
response," she said.
Mulling legal action
On Tuesday, the Bar Council called off its annual march due to pressures from
the authorities to obtain a permit.
Nevertheless, a number of lawyers decided to proceed with the march this
morning, which garnered a crowd of almost 100.
As a result, eight people, including five lawyers, were arrested for illegal
assembly and are being held at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters. They are
expected to be charged tomorrow.
The five lawyer arrested are N Surendran, Latheefa Koya, R Sivarasa, Eric
Paulsen and Amer Hamzah. The others were activists Anthony Andu, Noor Aza Othman
and a bystander named Akhbar Ali Raja.
Ambiga said that the council, which represents strong 13,000 lawyers in
Peninsular Malaysia, will write to the inspector general of police to seek
clarification. She also did not rule out a legal action against the police.
"It really emphasises what we are trying to say on human rights, why it is so
important," she said.
"In my view, this is a sad day for human rights in Malaysia. What should have
been a celebration has really turned into a very sad day, unnecessarily so," she