Suhakam: Jerit’s campaign should have been allowed

KUALA LUMPUR: The participants of Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) or Marginalised People’s Network should be allowed to go on their cycling campaign to voice their concerns over various national issues, said Suhakam commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam.

Freedom of expression: Siva receiving the memorandum from Jerit coordinators M.Sugumaran (centre) and M. Sarasvathy yesterday.

He said their action of submitting a memorandum to the Government peacefully at the end of the campaign was a form of freedom of expression in a democracy.

“We will hold a public inquiry and seek the views of the police on criticism by Jerit members before the matter is brought up to the Commission,” he told reporters after meeting Jerit participants at the Suhakam headquarters yesterday.

Jerit coordinator S. Arutchelvam told Suhakam that during the campaign from Dec 3 to 18, the participants encountered 30 roadblocks, in which 40 people were arrested for some 200 offences.

The campaign ended at Parliament when they handed a memorandum to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator T. Murugiah.

The campaign was to seek the abolition of the Internal Security Act, review the Minimum Wage Act, housing for the poor, stopping the privatisation of water, power and hospitalisation facilities.

Siva Subramaniam said the police should have used their resources to handle other more serious crime issues.

“They should have concentrated more on the mat rempit problem and other crimes. It’s not appropriate for the police to take sides on this issue (the Jerit cycling campaign) because the police should appear neutral,” he added.

He said there were different interpretation of the law by the police in several states.

Arutchelvam noted that people had accused them of using children in the campaign.

“However, we had explained and received permission from the parents of younger participants to sign consent letters with us before they allowed their children to join the campaign,” he added.

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