In the 19 months since PH’s GE14 win, Sevan had been summoned for police questioning more than during the BN administration.
Bukit Aman police questioned Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy yesterday over a forum discussing those arrested over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The Nov 25 event, of which the NGO was one of the organisers, had also discussed the use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
Speaking to Malaysiakini when contacted, Sevan said he was struck by surprise at the police’s “disturbing” line of questioning during the hour-long interrogation.
“The two disturbing questions were…the police asked if I thought Sosma was used as a political tool to arrest DAP politicians.
“And the other question was (if I thought) the arrests of the two DAP assemblypersons were due to how some DAP members had commented against Zakir Naik (previously),” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense to ask the forum organiser these kinds of leading questions, rather than ask about the reason of organising this forum…,” he opined.
To both queries, Sevan said he responded: “Jawab di mahkamah (I will answer in court).”
Accompanied by his lawyer New Sin Yew, he was questioned by one Inspector Nor Adilah Fatihah Abdul Wahab of the Criminal Investigation Unit (D5) under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code.
The section refers to “statements conducing to public mischief” that are intended or likely to cause public fear or alarm or induce someone to commit an offence against the government or public tranquillity.
Two DAP assemblypersons were among the 12 arrested under Sosma – P Gunasekaran (Seremban Jaya) and G Saminathan (Gadek).
An Indian national, Zakir is an influential Muslim preacher who lives in Malaysia on a Permanent Resident status.
His controversial comments on Indian and Chinese Malaysians earlier this year had led to criticism from many, including DAP leaders.
Questioned more under Harapan than during BN
Sevan explained that it was Suaram’s role as a human rights NGO to organise talks on human rights issues.
“It is clear intimidation and harassment to call upon the human rights defenders (for questioning) when part of their job is organising forums for public discourse on draconian laws,” he opined, referring to Sosma.
Critics call Sosma draconian because it does not allow bail.
In the 19 months since Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 win, he rued how he had been summoned for police questioning more than during the BN administration.
“In my first three years (at Suaram) it was during the BN government, I was called four or five times in the whole three years.
“But after the change of government, I have already been called six times,” he said.
Sevan thus questioned if Harapan and IGP Abdul Hamid Bador were truly committed to carrying out their reform promises.
He urged Hamid to meet with civil society groups to discuss a better standard operating procedure (SOP) when dealing with police reports lodged against human rights activists.
“I am calling on the IGP to have a meeting with stakeholders…to register our dissatisfaction on this so-called SOP to investigate in the name of a police report…
“This SOP needs to be changed,” he said. – Malaysiakini