Malaysia: Socialist leader arrested for 'sedition'

Socialist Party of Malaysia secretary general S Arutchelvan.

Police descended on the house of Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) secretary general S Arutchelvan (Arul) in Kajang on February 19, arresting him under the Sedition Act.

We believe Arul has been arrested for his press statement on behalf of the PSM on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy 2 guilty verdict. In the statement, Arul criticised the Federal Court judgement, saying the courts are not independent and are politically driven.

Court judgements are usually open to comment by lawyers and legal academics. But soon after, the Inspector General of Police tweeted that Arul would be investigated for his “seditious” statement. The PSM feels that this is a selected persecution by the police, which solely decides what is seditious and what is not.

Arul has been taken to the Dang Wangi police station and we are told that the police will apply to the magistrate for Arul to be denied bail.

The PSM deplores the heavy-handed action of the Dang Wangi police.

A request for Arul to come to the police station would have been sufficient. Furthermore, the police decided to make this arrest on the Chinese New Year public holidays.

There is no need at all to lock up Arul overnight, or to ask for one or more days of remand. PSM members are prepared to cooperate with police investigations.

Police are clearly trying to intimidate the Malaysian public by using the Sedition Act of 1948 — an act formulated by our colonial rulers to suppress the freedom of speech and opinion.

The police are trying to clamp down on any criticism of the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. We would like to remind the police and their BN masters that 2015 is quite different from 1948, and attempts to intimidate the public will backfire.

We demand the immediate release of S Arutchelvan, and the dropping of all sedition charges against him.

[Jeyakumar Deveraj reprsents the PSM Central Committee. Please send messages to the Malaysian embassy or consulate in your country demanding S Arutchelvan's immediate release.]

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