On Wednesday September 5, I accompanied a 19 year old teenager Ong Sing Yee to the Johor Bahru Central Police Station. She had earlier seen her photo and read in the China Press that the police were looking for a number of people including her to assist the police who were investigating an incident at Dataran Merdeka on the night of Merdeka, where apparently some people had stepped on the photos of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
At the Johor Bahru Central police station, and where the initial questioning took place, I must acknowledge that the police treated her with decorum and professionalism. The police officer questioning her even asked me to buy her food and drinks. After her statement was taken, the police informed her that she is being investigated for committing an offence under s.4(1) of the Sedition Act and she was going to be brought to Kuala Lumpur for further investigation. I had earlier told her that she must be prepared for that the police will take her to Kuala Lumpur for further investigation. The police officers did inform her and me, that they will before taking her to Kuala Lumpur go to her house to retrieve the T-Shirt which she had worn during the night of the incident.
It has now come to my knowledge that, prior to taking her to Kuala Lumpur, she was then taken to the Johor Police Headquarters where she was further questioned and this time without the presence of any lawyer. Ong Sing Yee hardly can speak a word of Malay or English. Apparently a statement was taken where she was being held at the Johor Police Headquarters, a police interpreter then translated her statement and she was asked signed her statement which she did. She certainly never had the opportunity to verify independently if her whole statement was translated to her or even accurately translated or the statement contained information which she had never said and those statements not read back to her. I stand corrected on this issue.
Ong Sing Yee is now being investigated under s.4 of the Sedition Act 1948. Under s.4, it is an offence for any person who does or attempt to any act which has or would have a seditious tendency. Ong Sing Yee’s case, could a Malaysian first, where stepping on the prime minister photo and even worst his wife can now tantamount to a seditious act. Mischief making? Probably. Sedition? Surely not!
Nevertheless, it is agreeable that it is bad manners and uncouth behaviour to step on one’s photograph although it’s becoming the norm now days in Malaysia. No one condones what she did but the question is why only her and why only now. We have witnessed army personnel doing “butt exercise” against Ambiga. The Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng, his photo is trampled ever so regularly and there was an incident of some youths urinating on Tuan Guru Nik Aziz’s poster. Going by the police’s exuberance in charging Ong Sing Yee with committing sedition, surely the police must arrest and charge the perpetrators who did the same to Ambiga, Lim Guan Eng or Tuan Guru Nik Aziz. Or is it a case of different rules applying for different people.
Ong Sing Yee may have her own reasons who she stepped of the Prime Minister and Rosmah Mansor’s photos, but she has now apologised to the Malaysian public. Thus, it’s time that the police discontinue further investigation on Ong Sing Yee. To pursue a case against Ong Sing Yee but being indifferent on cases involving people like Ambiga, Lim Guan Eng or Tuan Guru Nik Aziz would simply be construed as a case of vindictiveness, persecution and double standard.
Surely, the police can be forgiving and magnanimous and with Ong Sing Yee now having made an open apology to all Malaysians, which also includes the prime Minister and his wife,
Let the Malaysian public see this magnanimous side of the police.