KL police detain 'Red Shirts' leader

Jamal Yunos to help probe into aggressive behaviour directed at Bersih reform group

SEPANG • Malaysian police yesterday arrested the leader of the aggressive "Red Shirt" protesters, Datuk Jamal Yunos, when he landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Dubai, following several incidents involving the group.

He is being remanded for two days to help police investigate incidents involving the Red Shirts' aggressive behaviour in recent days against followers of the Bersih electoral reform group in Selangor, said the director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh.

"He was detained to assist investigations into violent incidents in Teluk Intan and Sabak Bernam involving anti-Bersih supporters. "Both incidents occurred during the Bersih convoy," he said when contacted yesterday.

Bersih, with its yellow shirt uniform, is planning to hold another peaceful street demonstration next month, which the Red Shirts oppose.

A police report was lodged last week against Mr Jamal for a Facebook post allegedly threatening a repeat of the May 13, 1969 racial riots if Bersih were to go ahead with its protest on Nov 19 against Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.

A police report was lodged last week against Mr Jamal for a Facebook post allegedly threatening a repeat of the May 13, 1969 racial riots if Bersih were to go ahead with its protest on Nov 19 against Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.

Mr Jamal, according to the Facebook post, promises "flying machetes" if the Bersih demonstration went ahead. He has since denied that the post was made by him and said it came from a fake account.

His detention also followed other reports against his Red Shirts group, including an assault on two journalists from The Star newspaper last weekend while they were covering a Bersih convoy that was distributing leaflets to publicise the protest.

Mr Jamal, who is divisional Umno leader in Selangor, has since apologised for his members' behaviour. But the consistent aggressive behaviour by the Red Shirts has led to accusations that the group is backing the Najib administration's move to silence government critics.

Datuk Seri Najib is facing international pressure over the financial scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, which he oversaw. His government has been applying pressure on the opposition and political activists to prevent them from raising the issue publicly.

A report by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that a rising number of Malaysians were investigated over the past year for criticising the government. It follows an HRW release last year on the increasing use of criminal laws to stifle dissent.

"We found that there were few countries in South-east Asia worse than Malaysia when it came to the rapid deterioration of human rights... it's like a bad movie sequel," HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson told reporters.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'KL police detain 'Red Shirts' leader'. Print Edition | Subscribe