Malaysia's opposition PKR VP Tian Chua detained, claims police abuse

Prominent Malaysian opposition leader Tian Chua (left, seen in this May 2013 file photo), said on Sunday, May 3, 2015, that he had been physically abused by police after they arrested him without giving any reason. -- PHOTO:THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Prominent Malaysian opposition leader Tian Chua (left, seen in this May 2013 file photo), said on Sunday, May 3, 2015, that he had been physically abused by police after they arrested him without giving any reason. -- PHOTO:THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A prominent Malaysian opposition figure said Sunday he had been physically abused by police after they arrested him without giving any reason.

Chua Tian Chang, better known as Tian Chua, told the AFP news agency police stopped his car on a highway in the northern state of Penang late Saturday while he was on his way to his party's office after speaking at a political rally.

"I asked them why they wanted to arrest me and for the name of the officer in charge but they just dragged me out aggressively and pushed me towards the police car and they started hitting me on the back of my head," said Chua who is the vice-president of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

The PKR is a component party of the three-member opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance which includes the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

"One of them pulled my hair and forced me into the police car and another slapped me inside the car," the opposition lawmaker added.

Chua said he was taken to a nearby police station and later transferred to another station in Kuala Lumpur.

"This is so ridiculous. The arrest could have been done in a civil way," the 51-year-old said.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

As of Sunday afternoon, Chua was still at the police station. He said he was waiting for a statement to be recorded and to be officially informed why he was being detained.

"I think most likely it has something to do with the May Day rally," he said.

Chua is the latest government critic to be detained following more than two dozen arrests - which included prominent activists and opposition politicians- since Friday's May Day street protest. Thousands took to the streets, mainly to demand an end to a newly implemented goods and services tax (GST).

Among them were lawyer and activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, DAP organising secretary and Seremban Member of Parliament Anthony Loke, PAS MP Dr Hatta Ramli, and Parti Sosialis Malaysia secretary-general S Arutchelvan, all of whom have since been released.

Aside from Chua, police on Saturday also arrested activist Hishamuddin Rais and PKR MP Rafizi Ramli. Both were later released after questioning.

Meanwhile, the PKR on Sunday called on the police to release Chua.

"PKR strongly condemns the arrest of PKR vice-president Tian Chua in Seberang Jaya late last night," party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in a statement, according to the Malaysian Insider news portal.

"PKR believes his arrest is related to the May Day rally to protest the goods and services tax in Kuala Lumpur on May 1," she said, adding that the arrests were unnecessary as the rally was peaceful. She also said organisers had previously discussed holding the rally with police on April 24.