'Give Malaysians arrested in Singapore a second chance'

One of Malaysia's opposition heavyweights says Singapore should show leniency to some Malaysians who were arrested at the Merlion Park earlier this month after the Singapore authorities gave "a second chance" to a former Johor menteri besar.

Singapore police arrested 21 Malaysians on May 11 for gathering at the park to protest against the results of the recent elections in Malaysia.

"I call on the Singapore authorities to give Malaysians who have violated the Singapore laws for activities in the island republic in connection with the Malaysian 13GE a second chance like they have given to former Johor menteri besar, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman," said Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang yesterday.

Mr Ghani made a stop in Singapore with his entourage on May 2 while on the campaign trail, leading to a police report being filed against him for canvassing for votes in Singapore, which is against the law in the Republic.

Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a joint statement last Friday that "the acts referred to in the report such as arriving in Singapore, having breakfast or speaking to reporters do not constitute an offence".

Mr Lim said in his statement yesterday: "I commend the Singapore authorities for bending backwards to accommodate Ghani, saying that the former Johor menteri besar was not campaigning in Singapore although it was obvious to all that the very objective of Ghani's visit to Singapore was to canvass for votes from Malaysians either working or staying in Singapore - believed to number some 400,000."

Singapore police said last Tuesday that the work pass of one of the Malaysians will be revoked, while another two have had their visit passes cancelled. The remaining 18 people will have their work passes reviewed.

In his statement yesterday, Mr Lim said the Malaysian workers who broke Singapore laws as a result of their election enthusiasm should get a second chance "at least in the spirit of maximum forgiveness so that everyone can move on after learning the hard facts of life".