KOTA KINABALU, Feb 2, 2015:
Police seemed to be well prepared for the Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) activists, judging from the backup and food for their long night of work.
“It was as though they (police) were expecting us. They had the FRUs (Federal Reserve Unit), ambulance and oddly, catered food,” Sabah Sarawak Union (UK) member Milin Biok told The Rakyat Post, adding that it was the first time they had any problem with the “authority”.
Although he was not one of them, Milin said the nine arrested were part of volunteers going around to collect signatures for a petition, established by the Sabah Sarawak people.
“This petition is an outcry over the injustice towards Sabah and Sarawak because for 51 years, the two states was sidelined compared to Malaya states,” he said.
He said they were calling for the review of the Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
However, Milin declined to elaborate furthermore the issues, adding that their teams of lawyers would be sitting soon to discuss on their next cause of action.
“We will come out with an official statement soon to stop all these speculations,” he said.
The nine Sabah Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM) activists were detained for several hours at the Tuaran district police headquarters for questioning on Sunday.
It was learnt that they were nabbed while soliciting signatures for a petition seeking the secession of Sabah at the weekly tamu (open market) in Tuaran about 10am.
Former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, who was called by the nine to be their legal counsel and to bail them out, said he was informed of their detention about 1.30pm, and saw FRU personnel stationed at the main gate.
“We arrived there about 3pm and by that time, a crowd of some 50 people were already waiting at the gate,” said the Sabah Progressive Party president. ,
He alleged that the police had called for an ambulance to be on stand-by near the police station due to concerns that the huge turnout would turn ugly.
Yong said at 5.10pm, 18 people were asked to be guarantors, two for each detainee, and that the nine were released about6.20pm.
Veteran Sabah politician Datuk James Ligunjang, who also came to the activists’ rescue, said Yong and himself had volunteered to be among the guarantors.
“I heard rumours that I was among the nine; it is indeed incorrect.
“I went to Tuaran because I was told that some.of the activists had worn the Hormati Perjanjian Malaysia (Respect the Malaysian Agreement) T-shirt, which I initiated as part of my campaign to gain people’s support for the review of the five decades old agreement,” he said.
Ligunjang said the activists, whom he described as “passionate Sabahans”, are expected to report to the Tuaran police station on Feb 13.
“Are we going to sue the police? For now, we cannot decide … we will cross the bridge once we get there,” he said.
Sabah State Reform Party (Sabah Star) chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan meanwhile expressed disappointment over the activists’ arrest, adding that the heavy presence of enforcers showed an inability to deal with such a situation.
“The activists were just voicing out the people’s grouses. This is probably their last resort after all past efforts had gone to deaf ears.
“Promises after promises from the federal government; that they will listen and consider what East Malaysians want, yet nothing is done,” he said.
Kitingan said the authorities seem to be practising favouritism.
“The police should be arresting those issuing identification cards to illegal immigrants, or maybe (Perkasa president) Datuk Ibrahim Ali who is obviously inciting people and who always comes up with controversial statements.”
He added that the authorities’ recent actions might backfire as it would encourage more rallies in the future.