KUALA LUMPUR, 10 Nov 2008: Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar today defended police action at the illegal gathering in Petaling Jaya yesterday where 24 people, including three opposition leaders, were arrested.
He said the police were only doing their job in ensuring that public order was maintained.
“In that situation, the police had to act as it is their responsibility to enforce the law and ensure public order is maintained,” he told reporters at the parliament lobby.
Syed Hamid said he had yet to receive the full report on the incident and urged those involved to provide specific information if they were not satisfied with the way the authorities handled the situation.
Yesterday, police dispersed an illegal gathering of about 200 people at the Petaling Jaya civic centre and arrested 24 people including Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Phua, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu and Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San.
It was held in conjunction with the first anniversary of the Coalition for Clean & Fair Elections (Bersih) rally.
The first Bersih rally last November in Kuala Lumpur attracted about 50,000 people. Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse thousand who tried to march from Jalan Tun Perak to Dataran Merdeka.
Also arrested were Malaysiakini videographer Syukri Mohamad. All of them were released on police bail this morning.
Some of those arrested claimed the police used unnecessary force in breaking up the gathering. Several police reports have been lodged to this effect.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan denied that those arrested at the gathering would be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
He said they would be investigated under the Police Act and not under the ISA as reported by blogs and text messages.
“They have been released on police bail this morning but they need to report to the police on 24 Nov,” he told reporters after opening the annual general meeting of police association here.
Musa said the organiser did not apply for permit to hold the event.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim condemned the police action.
“Tony Phua was present to support a movement towards a fair and clean election. This shows that the government is arrogant and does not respect the rights of members of parliament to express their views,” he said.
Meanwhile Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said Pakatan Rakyat would discuss with police before organising any gathering in the future. — Bernama