Sunday, July 15, 2007

Release Nathaniel Tan Immediately!

Suaram statement

Suaram strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Nathaniel Tan, a staff of the Information Bureau of the People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat, PKR) and the founder www.bangkit. net and yesterday afternoon at his office. This is a classic case of how the constitutional rights and the basic human rights of a citizen can be violated by the police.

Firstly, the police were reportedly came in plain clothes when they brought away Nathaniel Tan. Why can't they put on police uniform with name and code number of policemen? If they were not to be in police uniform, they should at least produce police identity card to Nathaniel Tan and his colleagues in the office for verification.

Secondly, the policemen reportedly did not tell Nathaniel Tan that he was going to be arrested instead he was asked to follow them back to Bukit Aman Police Headquarters for investigation. Why misleading Nathaniel Tan of investigation when it was actually an arrest? What was there to hide behind the intention of arrest and why the hush-hush manner? Clearly, the police action was done in bad faith.

Thirdly, under Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, it is the duty of the police to tell the person of arrest of the ground of arrest as soon as possible and allow Nathaniel to consult his lawyer. In the case of Nathaniel Tan, he was not told of the ground of arrest but was taken away on the pretext of investigation and the lawyer was not informed of his arrest. Was the police trying to avoid informing the detainee of the ground of arrest by not making it clear to Nathaniel Tan that it was in fact an arrest?

Fourthly, due to the failure of the arresting police officers to produce their police identity cards to Nathaniel Tan and the failure of the police to confirm the arrest in the first six hours, the families and supporters of Nathaniel Tan were given a frantic run among the Dang Wangi police station, the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters and the Commercial Crime Department located at different places. When the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters informed the lawyers that they had no knowledge of the arrest, a police report of abduction of Nathaniel Tan by unknown persons was eventually made. If the arresting police officers had informed Nathaniel and his colleague which police station or department that they were coming from, this unnecessary wild goose chase would have been avoided.

The whole incident also prompted the question of what sort of information system is put in place in the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters when public members could not even get confirmation of arrest at the headquarters? How is the police force going to fight crimes if the headquarters was in this state of mal-coordination and
disorientation? Or was there an attempt to conceal the information in the first place?

Finally, we are of the opinion that the arrest of Nathaniel Tan for investigation is an abuse of powers by the police to intimidate dissidents and internet bloggers and users. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the police can summon Nathaniel for investigation and record his statement at police station. There is absolutely no need to resort to arrest and deprive of his personal freedom merely for investigation.

We wish to remind the police of the suggestion of the Royal Commission on the reform of the police to "investigate first and arrest later" and not the other way round, "arrest first and investigate later" at the expense of the personal liberty of a person.

We express our profound disappointment over the abuse of powers by the police in harassing opposition party and dissidents when they should instead use this time and energy in addressing and tackling public grave concerns on rising crimes nationwide.

Suaram calls for the immediate and uncondition release of Nathaniel Tan and the police officers that abused their powers to be disciplined. Any remand order applied by police will only constitute further abuse of powers. We further urge the immediate setting up of the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in
order to restore a professional, independent and highly effective police force in fighting crimes and protecting the rights of the citizen.

Yap Swee Seng

Executive Director

Penahanan Nathaniel Tan ini harus dikutuk oleh semua kerana ia menunjukkan kepada kita sikap tidak professional dan memihak yang jelas oleh pihak polis di dalam menangani isu yang berkaitan dengan politik negara.

Ketika aku baru sahaja bersifat positif terhadap pasukan polis selepas sessi dialog di Dewan Perhimpunan Cina Selangor & Kuala Lumpur yang dihadiri Ketua Polis KL sendiri dan lima OCPD daerah serta pegawai tinggi dari jabatan trafik, narkotik dsb. Tindakan ini membuatkan aku bersikap negatif kembali kepada mereka terutama yang melibatkan isu politik.

Tolak polis ke tepi, aku mula meminati dan mengenali si Nat melalui tulisan-tulisan beliau di laman web The Cicak, seterusnya di laman web bangkit dan jelas. Berjumpa pertama kali dengan beliau di hari penamaan calon pilihanraya kecil di Ijok april lepas, aku dapat melihat semangat dan azam yan tinggi di dalam diri Nat walaupun tubuhnya yang kurus itu.

Walau apapun, teruskan perjuangan Nat kerana ramai yang berdiri di belakangmu, anak muda Malaysia yang sedar dan tidak mudah diperkotak-katikkan oleh kerajaan Barisan Nasional yang pengecut.

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