Malaysia frees civil rights lawyer and three opposition politicians arrested over GST rally

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A civil rights lawyer and three opposition politicians were released from policy custody on Saturday after the police failed to get an order to remand them for four days.

Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker Anthony Loke, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) central committee member Hatta Ramli were freed after being detained for a night.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said the magistrate's court rejected an application by the police to remand them for four days.

"The application was refused on grounds that the persons involved were prepared to cooperate and surrender when the police called.

"So there is no necessity for them to be held in custody pending investigations," he told reporters at the Jinjang central lock-up.

Gobind said the four would go to the Dang Wang police headquarters on Saturday afternoon to have their statements recorded over the May 1 rally against the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

"We are prepared to cooperate. We will go back to the police station to continue investigations and they will be released after giving their statements.

"I don't think it will extend beyond this evening," he added.

The four were among some 30 people detained on Friday night after the rally which saw thousands of people gathering in the city centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Opposition leaders said the GST would widen the income gap and called for it to be abolished.