Kuala Lumpur : Ethnic Indian Lawmaker D. Jeyakumar, arrested for participating in the “Cycling For Change” campaign, will be charged with two offences – exploiting children and organising an illegal rally, a media report said Wednesday.
The Malaysian Government is taking a dim view of protest meetings being organised by ethnic Indians in which below-18 children participate.
Two months back, the government had acted when Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), a proscribed body claiming to speak for Malaysia’s two million-plus Hindus, bulk of them Tamils, went with flowers and gifts at Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi’s Eid reception, and reportedly raised slogans.
Part of the team was daughter of one of five Hindraf leaders detained for staging a protest rally in November last year. The child was also present during a court proceedings against the detainees serving two year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).
As for opposition lawmaker Jeyakumar, Selangor state’s deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar told media: “He has admitted to organising the event, so we will take action against him under Section 32 of the Child Act for exploitation of children.”
There were 28 individuals aged 18 years and below who were involved in the illegal procession held by the Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) on Monday evening and detained by police.
Another 30 people were arrested for participating in the procession but were released after their statements were recorded.
The official said that the youths, aged between 15 and 17, were brought to the Rawang police station “to save them from being exploited or misused by irresponsible groups”.
The Star newspaper reporting on the incident carried a photograph with the caption: “Anxious wait: Angry parents demanding entry while policemen in anti-riot gear stand guard at the Rawang police station Tuesday.
The teenagers were handed over to welfare department officers, who later contacted their parents.
The official said that it was immaterial whether the children received their parent’s consent.
He said some of them had permission letters from their parents but did not know the purpose of the rally when police talked to them.
On claims that Jerit had applied for a police permit for the procession, DCP Khalid said he did not receive any application.
In Rawang an uneasy stand-off occurred between parents of 27 youths after they were temporarily denied entry into the police station.
The teenagers had been kept overnight there because the welfare department had no place to house them.
When the parents arrived at around 8 a.m. Tuesday to get their children, they were told to wait outside without further instructions for about three hours.
Tensions grew as the parents and some Jerit members demanded to be let in to see their children. This prompted police to put about 20 officers in anti-riot gear on standby, the newspaper said.
The situation cooled after 10 minutes when the parents were allowed to take their children back.
The parents also refuted claims by police that the children were being misused by irresponsible groups, saying they encouraged them to join the campaign as it was healthy, educational and for a good cause.