Office Raided; BERSIH 5 Will Go On Despite Arrests Of Maria And Singh

Social media also reported the arrests of Seremban Member of Parliament, Anthony Loke and former Selangor Exco, Ronnie Liu, as well as Suaram activist, Luq Hakim

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KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian police arrested the head of electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 on Friday (Nov 18), a day before a planned protest in Kuala Lumpur to press Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down.

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was taken in for questioning along with secretariat member Mandeep Singh, shortly after the group’s office in Petaling Jaya was raided. Both had their mobile phones confiscated.

Chin, right, and Mandeep, left, were taken to the Petaling Jaya police station.
Chin, right, and Mandeep, left, were taken to the Petaling Jaya police station.

BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee members said in a statement issued late Friday that at 3.12pm Friday, the BERSIH 2.0 office in Petaling Jaya was raided in an ambush that trampled on the rule of law.

“Ten policemen from Bukit Aman led by ASP Wan Aedil barged into the Bersih office citing that the raid was conducted under Section 124(C) of the Penal Code in relation to BERSIH’s alleged OSF funding,” the state said.

When asked to produce a warrant, he said one was not needed,

Wan Aedil also refused to elaborate on the evidence or documents that they were looking for. Instead, he and his officers threw their weight around and harassed the staff, according to the statement.

In the office at the time were Maria; deputy chairperson, Shahrul Aman; treasurer, Thomas Fann; steering committee member, Jay Jay Denis; Mandeep; advocacy officer, Zoe Randhawa; administrative officer, Maisara; and media officer, Yap Pik Kuan.

“The police officers rounded everyone up and took their mobile phones and ICs. They were rude and acted out like thugs, pushing Thomas aside and at one point, attempted to cuff Mandeep for using his phone, which they violently snatched away.

Bersih 2.0 office was raided by the police from Bukit Aman today. The police threatened to seize all the items and documents at the office. - credit Sin Chew Daily
Bersih 2.0 office was raided by the police from Bukit Aman Friday. The police threatened to seize all the items and documents at the office. – Photo credit Sin Chew Daily

“While lawyers Melissa Sasidaran and R. Sivarasa were still allowed in the office, Wan Aedil had threatened to kick them out several times as he was getting “annoyed” with their questions. They were eventually asked to leave.

“No one else was allowed in including other lawyers Dato Ambiga Sreenevasan, Robyn Choi, and N. Surendran.

“The police officers were later joined by four officers from MCMC who assisted in collecting evidence.

“In total, 10 laptops (including chargers), pen drives, hard disks, payroll files, bank statements, and documents pertaining to The May 18 Foundation were seized. They had also taken several photos of the office. The raid lasted two hours, ending at 5.15pm.”

According to the statement, Maria and Mandeep were arrested and taken to IPD PJ.

Maria is being investigated under Section 124C of the Penal Code for activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy while Mandeep is being investigated under Section 147 for rioting and 511 for acts punishable with imprisonment.

They are scheduled to be taken to IPD Dang Wangi.

“BERSIH 2.0 condemns the raid as a blatant abuse of power and pure harassment and intimidation,” the steering committee added in the statement.

“No warrant or legitimate reason for the raid and arrests could be provided. The authorities have resorted to such desperate measures in a vain attempt to stop the BERSIH 5 rally.

“The laws of this country are being turned on its head. We have abided by the law but we get hauled up. Meanwhile, red shirt leader, Jamal Yunos, who can easily be charged under several sections of the Penal Code, still roams free. The double standard is glaring.

“If the authorities hope that this act of pure intimidation will scare us into submission, it will not happen. Instead, it has strengthened our resolve to continue with the BERSIH 5 rally.

“Maria’s and Mandeep’s arrest have changed nothing. BERSIH 5 will go on as planned and we hope that this heavy-handed action on the part of the authorities will spur Malaysians into coming down to the streets tomorrow not just to demand for institutional reforms but to protest injustices happening in the country,” the statement added.