Sunday, March 08, 2009

Of Tear Gas and Police Station

Yesterday, Murnie and I went to Mentari at 12 and we got to teach the kids to do an English essay about their favourite things. One of the kids, Hajar seemed to show a silent protest when she was asked to complete the assignment. She kept saying that she didn’t like English language and that was the reason she couldn’t complete her assignment. I could see that she got a little bit frustrated as she didn’t have the motivation to do the essay in English. It wasn’t like she purposely gave excuses not to do her assignment, it was more of frustration that English seemed to be a difficult subject for her. I understand her frustration. She is a good student, she is good at math and science. It’s a shame that her frustration would eventually leave her behind. As Murnie and I had to leave early, I think we need to talk to her one on one some other time.

Murnie asked me to come along to join the anti-PPSMI gathering at the National Mosque. As we arrived, we could see the FRU personnel was firing water cannon and tear gas at the crowd. As far as I’m concerned, this gathering was with permit, even though I strongly believe that the requirement for permit is in contradiction with article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

We then proceeded to the mosque compound, we could see a line-up of trucks in front of the mosque, waiting to fire tear gas and water canon at the crowd, mind you, this was happening within the mosque compound. I remember running together with Murnie and Syafiq for refuge. Seriously, the Police had gone bonkers. I didn’t see any justification for their actions. Now I know what it feels like being under siege. The image of the Palestinians running for their lives kept popping inside my head. For God’s sake, this is what we have to endure in our own so-called democratic country. The right to peaceful assembly is nothing but a mockery. For those who are still ignorant or choose to be ignorant as to the right to peaceful assembly, you can google “civil disobedience” by Gandhi and let your brain do some thinking. Stop being neutral and not taking side, what is right will always be right.

After the whole appalling drama ended, Murnie and I headed back to Subang as we wanted to go hang out at Subang Parade. While waiting for the train, we were laughing in excitement over what happened today. Murnie told me this was the first demo she ever attended and it was quite an experience. I told her, if there were arrests made, she could actually experience going to the police station and representing those who got arrested. I told her maybe some other time she got to do that.

As our train was approaching, I got a call saying that there were five people got arrested and they were all at dang wangi police station. They needed lawyers to be there. Murnie and I went to the police station right away. She got so excited that she got to experience going to the police station to represent those people. She kept telling me “kak fad, saya tak penah buat reman, macam mana?”, I told her not to worry. As we got there, we straight away went inside and I saw the Investigating Officer.

“Can I see my clients now?”. He the said, “yes, yes, you can go see them”. As we got into the room, three police officers who were there with our clients asked “siapa bagi kebenaran masuk sini?”. “i.o bagi kebenaran, jadi apa masalahnya? kalau tak percaya boleh tanya sendiri.””tak..bukan tak percaya, sila sila jumpa client puan”.

Four of our clients got arrested when they were on their way back to the car park. I asked the i.o “under what section my clients are arrested”. And he said “ saya pun tak tahu..he jokingly said, saya tak blajar law habis puan”. I asked again “seriously what was the offence? Under what law you are arresting them?”. He said “saya tak tahu under section apa, jangan risau, saua ambil statement lepas itu mereka boleh balik”. I told him “you don’t even have a reasonable basis to arrest my clients?”. He just smiled and walked away.

Mockery no. 2-are there such things called criminal procedure code and federal constitution in Malaysia? From what the i.o told me, the answer is NO.
After two hours of waiting, my clients were released. I advised them to lodge a police report as to their unlawful detention.

Murnie did a wonderful job, when she went to see the i.o to ask for further details, the police asked her where she came from. She proudly said, “We are from the urgent arrest team”. The police then said “wah..there is such a team?”. She said “yes, of course”. I told Kak Lat the whole story and she said Murnie has done a soft launch of our new revived urgent arrest team under the legal aid. Can’t wait to officially launch this team. Those who are interested to be on the team, we will send you a proper invitation in due course. legal aid for all rakyat!