KAJANG: The arrest of lawyer activist Siti Kasim and the police application of remand for her have drawn much outrage from lawyers and activists in the country.
They criticised the actions of the men in blue, saying that the matter could have been resolved amicably.
A number of lawyers and social activists showed up in solidarity with Siti at the Kajang magistrate’s court where the police attempted to obtain a remand order.
They included lawyer and National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah.
There were 12 lawyers representing Siti yesterday, including Ambiga and Malaysian Bar Human Rights Committee co-chairman Roger Chan.
The remand application was eventually rejected by Registrar Sharifah Fazilah Zulkifli in exercising the power of the magistrate.
“We assume that the reason for the dismissal is that there was no reason made out by the police for the remand. That will be the grounds,” Ambiga said after the remand application was dismissed.
Before the remand proceedings, she commented that the arrest of Siti was wholly unjustified.
Chin said there were no grounds for the police to act in that manner and they could have requested Siti to go to the police station to have the matter sorted out.
“This is a clear case of police abuse. This should not be happening when we are talking about a ‘new Malaysia’.
“This is also a reason why we need the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to hone in on the police and how they look at human rights,” she added.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) committee member S. Arulchelvan described the whole incident as mala fide (in bad faith).
“The arrest was really uncalled for. I was there until 5am when the police recorded Siti’s statement over the night and they even got her to undergo a urine test.
“And the remand application for four days is ridiculous. If this is a case of obstructing a civil servant, why do you need four days to establish it?
“She was just carrying out her duty as a lawyer to protect her client. What message is the police giving?” he questioned.
Arulchelvan also said that bringing Siti to the police lock-up in the wee hours of the morning was just wasting police resources when the matter could have been resolved in a more peaceful manner.
Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng stressed that a lawyer must at all times be allowed to advance a client’s rights without obstruction, impediment or fear of prosecution for carrying out duties as an officer of the court.
He said when lawyers are unable to defend their clients for fear of arrest, criminal charges or intimidation, they can no longer properly defend people facing violations of their human rights.
Meanwhile, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen took to Twitter to say that the incident was a clear abuse of police power.
“We can see a grown-up woman seeking help from Siti, but instead the police arrested both the woman and lawyer?
“Kidnapping or confining a kidnapped person are very serious allegations. I hope the police have evidence to this effect other than arrest now and investigate later.
“Just because someone had lodged a police report does not mean the police must act without investigating the veracity of the report. This is just reckless. Don’t abuse your powers @PDRMsia. This is why we need the IPCMC,” Paulsen tweeted.
Also venting his anger on Twitter was Lawyers for Liberty adviser and former Padang Serai MP N. Surendran who wrote: “Unacceptable! This is BN-style abuse of power. Muhyiddin Yassin must get his act together.
“Why the orange outfit and handcuffs? Unacceptable!
“She is not a dangerous suspect, but a lawyer arrested in the course of defending a client.”
Netizens also weighed in on the drama.
Facebook user Shamsul Nizam called for Malaysians not to jump to conclusions about the case involving Siti and her client.
He said it was necessary for the full details of the case to be known before people passed judgment.
Eric Law urged for the truth to prevail in the court of law.
Rahimi Rahman wished that there were more people like Siti who was willing to fight for what she believed in and not like others who only insulted “without offering constructive criticism”.
Amid criticisms against the police force for arresting Siti, Awea Pro said the police officers were just doing their job.
“When there is a report then they will have to do their job. If the police don’t do anything, people will say that they are getting paid for nothing,” he said.