July 30, 2011
“Freeing Us was a smart Political Move”, says Dr. Michael Jeyakumar
Parti Sosialis Malaysia leader Dr Michael D Jeyakumar today called the release of the six PSM members as a “smart political move” by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in face of diminishing public support.
“It’s definitely due to public pressure that we were released. He was losing popularity and realized that it too politically costly to keep holding us,” he told reporters just hours after the six PSM leaders were released from their Emergency Ordinance 28-day detention.
The Prime Minister, however, today said that release of the PSM members was a decision made by the Police “based on their own observation”.
“We accept the decision made by the Police, it is up to the attorney-general to decide on the next course of action. As a sovereign country we uphold the rule of law,” said Najib to reporters today.
However Jeyakumar, the Sungai Siput MP, noted that it was the pressure imposed by the people that had forced the government to release him and his party colleagues. He said that there were strong movements by the people in holding candlelight vigils, peace marches and hunger strikes nationwide to call for the release of the six.
“It’s not because the Police were being sensible. They were out to get us to use us as an example.”
He also said that PSM’s next step would be to gauge the situation and perhaps file a case as they had been wrongly detained under the Emergency Ordinance.
“It’s a huge step forward for democracy, a victory for all of us.” Apart from the Sungai Siput MP, the others who had been detained were PSM deputy president M Sarasvathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M Sukumaran, Youth chief R Saratbabu and Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan.
They were released today evening (July 29). They were arrested in Kepala Batas on June 26 while distributing leaflets calling on the public to support Bersih 2.0′s demands for free and fair elections. The authorities later accused them of waging war against the King.
They were then re-arrested on July 2 under the Emergency Ordinance which allowed the police to detain suspects for up to 60 days without trial. It was later revealed that they were detained for allegedly being “movers” for the July 9 rally organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0).
Jeyakumar’s hunger strike
During a triumphant victory celebration-cum-press conference this evening, the EO6 recounted their experiences in jail. Sukumaran revealed how the interrogators from Special Branch had forced him to sing as they had seen him holding a microphone on the PSM website.
“I told them I could only sing Tamil songs, and I sang one about being questioned and giving answers. When he asked me what it meant I told him that I was saying ‘my mother is sitting there, but I am sitting here so I am sad’.”
Sugu had also sung a popular Tamil movie song about bringing people together. Jeyakumar also joked about his hunger strike, saying that he had fasted for two days before being released.
“I was thinking, how long will I be continuing this? But I’ve already told the press about it, malu (embarrassed) if I break it.”
He also brushed off claims that the Police had been professional. “It was not because the Police came to their senses or they became honest and professional. They were not,” he said.
“By the first week they should have known that we weren’t a threat – waging war against the King is more than t-shirts and a few people in a bus. If you look at records since 1998 when we became a party, there is zero indication we’ve used violence, religion, communist rhetoric. In 13 years, what have we done against the constitution?”
Engaged the Home Minister
PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan revealed that PSM had engaged with Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to push for the six’s release.
“We were willing to accept any kind of release, even conditional,” said Arutchelvan, adding that he’d welcome a court case.He claimed that upon the release of the six, Hishammuddin had text messaged him saying “Over to you Aru.”
“We’ll work with Pakatan to topple Barisan Nasional next election,” he promised.
Sheila Jayakumar, Dr Jeyakumar’s sister, told FMT that she was relieved her brother and the other five members had been released.
“The emergency ordinance must go!” Jeyakumar claimed that their detention had been in order to scare the Malaysian people into silence. “But it did not work. The people were brave and it was because of them that I am free today,” he said