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GST Protest: Time to Reign in the Police?

By Charles Santiago On March 25, 2015 

24th March 2015.


There is no coup in the country to topple the ruling government. But an outsider, reading news about police clampdown, arrests for peaceful protests and the hauling up of people for sedition, would think there is one happening.

Monday’s arrest of 80 people who held an anti-GST protest is way over the top. My staff is one among those arrested.

The detainees were denied access to lawyers for three hours. They were also denied food. Such blatant abuse of police power to create fear among the protesters and the public is grotesque.

The protesters wanted answers about the controversial tax system, which will burden the already struggling middle class and poor.

Their questions were legitimate. Why lobsters would escape GST is a valid question.

Customs officers could have treated the protesters with dignity and answered all their questions.

When will the government and police understand that it is perfectly acceptable to ask questions about government policies?

When would it hit them that the people in power are answerable to the rakyat?

When will the police learn that they cannot keep going to the mat for the ruling political parties, especially UMNO? And that they are here to protect the interest of the public and not indulge in repression.

It looks as if the police force has gone mad. Kita Lawan protesters were arrested, lawyer Eric Paulsen has been hauled up for sedition twice and DAP lawmaker Tony Pua has not been spared.

There is also no Parliamentary immunity in the country. PKR member of parliament, Nurul Izzah, was detained overnight for reading out her father’s statement in the lower house.

And the police chief takes to twitter ever so often to threaten activists, Opposition leaders and anyone who dares to raise a valid question, with arrest.

This police highhandedness and repression are totally unacceptable.

The rakyat have a right, enshrined in the country’s Federal Constitution, to express their dissatisfaction with the government and demand that justice is done.

The people have a right to demand for an accountable and transparent government.

The people have a right to express their financial hardship and how Barisan Nasional’s half-baked policies like the GST are making it impossible for them to put food on the table for their families.

The government has a responsibility and that is to listen to its people and implement policies and measures that allow their right to a livelihood.

What it cannot keep doing is to instruct the police to arrest anyone who dares to rise up against tyranny.


Charles Santiago

Member of Parliament, Klang

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