Cycling not allowed?Posted: December 6, 2008
This is all becoming very disturbing. As we all know, the Anti-ISA candle-light vigils have seen their fair share of police arrests. According to the police, arrests were made because the vigils were without permit, ie. illegal assembly.
Now, the Jerit campaign, which is basically a cycling campaign by the people for change, is also hung up facing problems with the police. This morning, 16 Jerit cyclists were arrested, and the others under house arrest. Jed Yoong has the story HERE. The names of the 16 who were arrested, as stated in Malaysiakini, are:
A Sivaragen, 39
V Pannirselvam, 48
D Letchimi, 37
K Simon, 34
P Mohan, 41
Goh Chee Horng, 24
E Nalini, 26
K Bawani, 23
A Yesudas, 41
Salleh Alian, 46
Ahmad Naqib, 13
S Aruchelvan, 41
Nyam Kee Han, 25
Ngo Jian Yee, 29
Ang Pei Shan, 27
Chuah Seong Ping, 28
As reported in the same Malaysiakini article:
According to Nalini, who is also Suaram co-ordinator, the police arrested the group for illegal assembly.
“But I argued that it was not an illegal assembly as we were all just trying to cycle. But the police said that they received specific instructions to arrest us,” said Nalini.
According to the Jerit website HERE:
THE POLICE BAN ANY CYCLING ACTIVITY IN SKUDAI TOWN. ANYONE FOUND CYLING EVEN ALONE WILL BE ARRESTED.
I think, though I’m not sure, that the law states that any assembly of more than 3 people needs a permit from the police before it is considered legal. Meaning that if there are 4 people planning to gather, for whatever reasons, those people must attain a permit before gathering, otherwise it will be considered illegal.
Now, I say “for whatever reasons”, because I believe, and again I’m not sure, that the law does not state which reasons do NOT require a permit. So if a group of 5 people decide to meet up at Suria KLCC at 5.05pm on a Saturday for a celebration dinner, without a permit, that gathering would be considered to be illegal.
But, lucky us, the police don’t go around arresting such people. Because I trust that if that were the case, there simply aren’t enough police, and a whole lot of us, in fact ALL of us, would have been detained at least once in our lives.
But no. The police don’t do that.
And in this case, I think, I’m also not sure, that it’s because this particular piece of legislation we’re talking about here, the law that states that any assembly exceeding 3 people would need a police permit, is also up to police discretion. Meaning, I think, that if the police think that you’re “up to no good”, or if the police believe that your gathering is “peaceful” enough, then they’ll let you go.
Notice that it is also according to what the police *think* or *believe*. Meaning, they might not be sure, like how I’m not sure.
So in regards to the Anti-ISA vigils, and the Jerit Campaign that’s *trying* to get along right now, my guess is that the police *feel* that these activities are along the lines of “not peaceful”. Maybe. I don’t know.
Maybe, if we let our imaginations run wild for a little while, the police, or whoever is ordering these arrests to take place, think that candle-light vigils with *gasp* LIT candles will cause fires and damage to property, lives and other such things. Maybe the cycling campaign will encourage more people to join the cyclists, and then we’ll have a massive bunch of cyclists taking over the roads, streets and highways, so much so that nobody will drive cars anymore, car sales will drop drastically and the government will lose a lot of income.
That’s letting my imagination run wild.
But to be back on the real side of things, I cannot see why arrests have had to happen. Not during the Anti-ISA vigils, and not during this Jerit campaign.
The vigils, as far as I know, are carried out basically so that people can gather, and awareness about what the ISA really is can be created. It is to create awareness. I doubt that anyone was really plotting on how to break into the Kamunting Detention Camp and free the detainees. And same goes for the Jerit Campaign. Other than to create awareness and to hand over a memorandum at the end of the campaign, I doubt there is any plot or conspiracy behind it.
What the arrests have shown me, is that we are being regulated more and more. The police dictate whether we can gather or not. The police dictate whether we can cycle or not. The police dictate what T-shirts we can wear (Anti-ISA T-shirts, I have read, have been banned).
There was a time when I didn’t even THINK of applying for a police permit before organising an event for my school society outside of school grounds. Would there come a time when a group of 5 people who decide they want to meet up at Suria KLCC at 5.05pm on a Saturday for a celebration dinner, will need a police permit, or risk arrest?
Note #1: I write this assuming that the legislation DOES indeed allow for police discretion. If it does not, and explicitly states that ALL assemblies on public grounds exceeding 3 people require police permits, well.. what else have I to say?
Note #2: I’ve just noticed that the Jerit website stated that anyone found cycling ALONE in Skudai will also be arrested. That goes beyond ‘illegal assembly’. That is the police gone mad.