Monday, July 18, 2011

No privacy in Cool Point Hotel

Arrested in hotel room for wearing Bersih t-shirts

Cameron Highlands police invaded the privacy of four people by arresting them for wearing Bersih t-shirts inside their hotel room.

KUALA LUMPUR: In a blatant invasion of privacy, the police arrested four people on holiday in Cameron Highlands by entering their hotel room at 1am on Sunday. The reason for the arrest: they were wearing Bersih t-shirts inside their hotel room.

Those arrested were Seputeh MP’s Teresa Kok’s aide Teh Hoong Keat, 25; Lan Suet Ling, 23; Chin Kah Wai, 25; and a mutual acquaintance who requested anonymity.

But the baffling part is that while they were held at the police station for three hours, no statements were taken, and their Bersih t-shirts were given back to them and told “to wear it as we please”.

Teh told a press conference today that the police arrested him and the three others when they were in their room at Cool Point Hotel in Cameron Highlands.

Relating his ordeal, Teh, who was flanked by Lan and Chin said about 15 plainclothes policemen arrived and knocked on their hotel room at about 1am on Sunday after being tipped off by the hotel management that they were in possession of the Bersih T-shirts.

“They just entered the room when I opened the door. One officer identified himself as chief inspector Basar Safar and said we needed to follow him to the police station for being in possession of banned material,” said Teh.

However, Teh said Basar refused to inform them whether they were under arrest.

“One female officer then took our MyKads to note our details but refused to return it. She told us they will only be returned if we followed them to the police station,” added Teh.

Left with no choice, the four changed to a casual clothing and handed over their Bersih t-shirts to the police before following them.

However, Teh said the police merely left them to sit on a couch for about three hours before releasing them.

“At about 3am, another officer took our personal details again and told us that we can go back,” said Teh.

Unhappy with the episode, Teh accused the police of being unjust for invading their private space.

OCPD must say sorry

Another aide, Chin, said he was baffled when the police released them without taking any statement despite being held at the police headquarters for more than three hours.

“They even returned our Bersih t-shirts and told us to wear it as we please,” said Chin.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, who was present at the press conference, accused the police of infringing and invading the private life of a citizen.

“The youths were wearing the shirts in their hotel room. If the police say they acted not according to law, then even tourists should be wary of Cameron Highlands as a tourist spot.

“The Brinchang police OCPD must apologise for this,” said Lim. --

Boycott Cool Point Hotel Cameron Highlands

Received: Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 7:53 PM

It was to be a weekend trip for a group of four youths to Cameron Highlands to enjoy nature in all its splendour.

The previous week had been hectic, what with the Bersih 2.0 rally and the numerous controversies that cropped up, so it would have been a well-deserved holiday for three aides to Seputeh MP and DAP national organising secretary Teresa Kok (right).

Little did they know that the Bersih 2.0 stigma would continue to trail them all the way to the idyllic hill resort town.

Teh Hoong Keat, Lan Suet Ling and Chin Kah Wai, along with a friend, had planned on a two- day, one-night stay in Cameron Highlands last Saturday to stretch their legs and possibly even go jungle trekking.

However, by the time the night was over, they had lost all desire to finish their holiday.

Teh said they adjourned to the girls' hotel room to hang out after dinner and visiting the night market, when a hotel employee knocked on their door about 12.45am.

"They asked us to change rooms because a family was staying next door and we may have been a bit noisy,” he said.

"By that time, I think he saw us wearing Bersih T-shirts in the room. After we changed rooms, about 10 minutes later someone started knocking loudly on our door.”

When they opened the door, at least 13 people who were waiting outside had barged into their room without identifying themselves, Teh (left) said.

"I asked them who they were, and one of them showed his ID, a chief inspector Basar Safar. He said the hotel management had called the police to tell them there was a group of people wearing Bersih T-shirts."

Teh said Basar had asked the group to follow the police back to Cameron Highlands district police headquarters, only giving the reason that it was a "public security issue".

'Nearly three hours wasted'

The group had initially argued against going to the police station, but had little choice as all their MyKads were being held by a female officer, who told them they would only get the documents back at the station, said Teh.

Lan (left) said they were also told to ride in the police car to the station, where they were then made to wait for two hours without any instructions after reaching there at 1am.

"They just made us wait at a side hall, where there were a few sofas. We waited and did nothing. We thought they wanted to take our statements, but they did nothing.

"By 3am, the same chief inspector came and told us we were free to go. We asked if we had anything to sign, and he said no and even returned our T-shirts to us. He told us, 'you pakailah sesuka hati kamu' (wear it however you wish).”

The ordeal however did not end there, as they had to wait at least another half-hour for the officers to send them back to the hotel, fighting back the chilly night air in just T-shirts and shorts, Lan added.

Teh said the police action was sheer injustice and an invasion of their privacy, stressing that nowhere in the law does it state that the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt is illegal.

Lan however pointed out that they chose to only wear the T-shirt in their hotel room as they acknowledge that this is still a sensitive matter.

DAP's Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng (right), who was acting as legal counsel for the trio, indicated that they will probably not take any legal action over the weekend fiasco.

"Since Malaysia is now a police state, suing the police would be a waste of time and money," he said at a press conference earlier.

An officer from the Cameron Highlands police headquarters today confirmed the case, but stressed that the quartet were not arrested.

The senior officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they did not infringe on the privacy of the four as Bersih has been declared an illegal organisation and wearing a Bersih T-shirt is not allowed.

“You cannot wear it outdoors or indoors, even as pajamas,” the officer said, adding that they decided to release the four unconditionally as they were not involved in an illegal assembly.

Prior to this incident, police had arrested five Pakatan Rakyat leaders across the country last week for wearing Bersih T-shirts, including DAP's Bakri MP Er Teck Hwa.

No comments: