Yesterday morning (5/1/1999) at about 11.45 a.m., together with
eight others, I was illegally arrested by the police. The police now claim
that they arrested only three persons and that my wife, Sabariah Abdullah,
and I were not arrested. This is a blatant lie. Seven of us were arrested
at the demolition site at Kampung Seri Murni, Ampang Campuran, under the
ASP Wan Kamarul. Two others, both Indonesians living in the kampung, were arrested later apparently for having no identity card on them while returning home from work.
If we were not arrested, how come we were guarded by several police officers after the arrest? Why were we all taken together to Ampang Police Station in the same police van? Why were we all put in the same lockup together? And why were we called to make statements? My wife and I refused to make any statement except in court.
I have visited this kampung several times. I observed that after the demolition of 28 of the 56 houses there (on 30/12/1998), workers and gangsters engaged by the developer have been busy with huge bull-dozers, destroying planks, zinc sheets, furniture and fruit trees owned by particularly two victims of the demolition, namely, Chong Wei Leong (Chairman of the Kampung Action) Committee and his brother. The demolition group always enjoyed the support and protection of a large number of uniformed and non-uniformed police officers. Except for the first day, when demolition took place, no bailiff appeared to be present to authorise their work.
Yesterday morning I went with my wife and three other members of PRM
to have a look again at the latest condition of the kampung. On arrival
I saw two tractors moving into the area on which the demolished houses
of the Chong brothers once stood. As in the previous occasions, uniformed
police officers were standing by and I also saw some non-uniformed ones
mingling very freely with the workers and gangsters. There was no bailiff
A number of people were trying to pull down a shed that was built by the younger Chong to protect his furniture and other personal belongings from sun and rain. When he resisted the onslaught of these people and refused to be forcibly removed from his property, they assaulted him. As this was taking place, 1 approached Senior Inspector Abdul Razak (in uniform), protesting against what was happening. 1 asked 'under whose authority the police and the developers were acting, since there was no bailiff present. He said he had no comment.
Then he went to a person (not in uniform), who appeared to be directing the workers and gangsters and talked to him for a while. This person, whom 1 was told later to be ASP Wan Kamarul, came to me and arrogantly demanded to know who 1 was and what business 1 had to be there. When I tried to argue with him and insisted that those involved, including the police, had no right to destroy things the way they did and without the presence of a bailiff, he directed another non-uniformed officer, whom 1 learnt later was detective Corporal Roslan, to arrest me.
When my wife was phoning up my lawyer, Roslan tried to forcibly take
the hand set from her. She refused to give way and the ASP ordered
her to be arrested too. Then 1 noticed that Chong, his brother, his
nephew and a PRM member (Tan) had also been arrested. Only Chong's brother
and nephew were handcuffed, the rest of us were not. The police took
cards. Immediately after we were arrested, a group of people pulled down two temporary tents put up by Chong and the villagers, and cut them up.
We were all escorted to an area nearby and guarded by several police officers, while waiting for a police van that was called for. When it arrived we were all herded into it. It was at this time that the two Indonesians joined us. On arrival at the Ampang Police Station, we were again herded together into a room and soon afterwards into a lockup. We had hardly been half an hour in the lockup, when my wife and 1 were called up, for statements to be taken by Inspector Letchu. We refused to give any statement and stated we would do so only in court. After that we managed to meet our lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah and a few friends from the NGO. We were asked to wait for a while and at about 2.45 p.m. our identity cards were returned to us and we were told to go home.
At that time, the three of us from PRM and a settler from the kampung were released without bail. We decided to stay on at the police station because Chong, his brother and nephew were still not out. At about 5.00 p.m. they were released on bail. They will be charged in court on 11/1/1999. But the two Indonesians had not been released yet.
Prior to this, on 24/12/1998 a group of the squatters sent a memorandum to the developer, Lebby Sdn Bhd, saying that they were willing to leave the area if they were provided with a temporary place to stay and given opportunity to purchase low cost houses. Then, on 28/12/1998 they went to the Ministry of Housing to submit a memorandum with almost similar content. They requested Deputy Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, whom they managed to meet, to intervene and he promised to persuade the developers to postpone demolition. Two days later, the developers together with the police moved in to demolish. Obviously they had no respect for him.
Undoubtedly, the settlers have been forcibly evicted. Their homes and property have been destroyed. They have nowhere else to go. All these things have happened during the fasting month of Ramadhan, near Chinese New Year, on the week schools opened and during rainy season. Why so cruel? Why so inhuman? It is not enough to say that these people have been squatting on some developer's property and that they have lost in court. Let us not forget these people have been settling on and developing the land long before the land was alienated by the government to the company. It is not enough to say that a large number of the settlers are Indonesians, although they hold red identity cards. They are also human beings needing shelter for their families. There are now about 500,000 squatters in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor who have been facing and will continue to face forceful eviction.
I am very concerned that the developers, clearly with co-operation and
protection of the police, have been acting on their own for four days without
the presence or supervision of a single bailiff. Of greater concern
in this case was that there were well over 20 police officers present (with
or without uniform) and they seemed to display great enthusiasm in protecting
and co-operating with the workers and gangsters who were almost running
rampage on the people's property. Why? Have the developers bribed
police officers in Ampang Campuran? We will be submitting a report soon,
so that full investigation is carried out on this matter.
Dr Syed Husin Ali
6 January 1999