KUALA LUMPUR, 8 May 2009: Political scientist and activist Wong Chin Huat was released on police bail at 3.35pm today at the Bukit Perdana police station.
“I need to thank whoever that made the decision to arrest me for making 1BLACKMalaysia a success … Thanks to all this negative publicity, the message is much clearer … Malaysians must know how to stand up for their rights,” said Wong after he was released today.
The Monash University Malaysia journalism lecturer was referring to the Bersih campaign calling on Malaysians to wear black on 7 May to mourn the “ongoing Perak coup”. The campaign was launched in the morning of 5 May before he was picked up by police.
Wong said Jais Abdul Karim from Permuafakatan Warisan Islam, otherwise known as Pewaris, had lodged a police report against him on 4 May after getting hold of his draft statement for the 1BLACKMalaysia launch.
Wong said the police told him that the report was lodged against him because the statement he wrote may “incite people to go against the government”.
However, Wong said he was merely exercising his right and personal liberty when he wore black and called on other people to wear black.
“The government needs to learn to accept civil disobedience as part of modern political life. You may disagree with me, then, come and debate with me. If you think 1BLACKMalaysia is not the right way to present Malaysia … get other people to wear other colours, by all means,” he said.
Wong said his detention was a deliberate attempt by the authorities to create a chilling effect to prevent other Malaysians from wearing black.
“My arrest is not because I’ve defied or intended to subvert any institution. On the contrary, what I’ve stood for has always been that this country needs to have a peaceful, democratic, and liberal political process,” said Wong.
In addition, the political scientist said only a totalitarian state would want to control what colour its citizens could wear.
Wong said even though he was remanded for three days, he was only questioned by the police yesterday for an hour.
Wong thanked his family, friends, colleagues, students and others for their support during his three-day detention.
Upon his release, all his possessions were returned to him except his personal computers. Wong has to report to the Jalan Duta police station on 22 May to find out if he will be charged when his bail ends.
The activist, who is also a columnist with The Nut Graph, said he would continue to wear black. Wong has been wearing black, except for the past two days in detention, since the Barisan Nasional takeover of Perak on 6 Feb 2009.
Also released today were 20 people, including five lawyers, who were arrested yesterday at the Brickfields police station during a candlelight vigil in support of Wong.