NGOs, political parties urge cops to free ‘Kerajaan Gagal’ protesters

PETALING JAYA: A group, consisting of 36 NGOs and political parties, has urged the government to release 20 youth protesters who took part in an anti-government protest in Batu Pahat, Johor, on Thursday.

The group said the 20 youths were merely exercising their constitutional rights to free speech, adding that the authorities needed to stop their intimidation.

“This event, which was purportedly labelled as a ‘riot’ by some quarters, was held yearly by youths in Parit Raja. There was no action taken against them in the past.

“However, it was different this year because the event was used as a medium by participants to voice out their hardship, and the #KerajaanGagal banner was put up.”

The group said the youth members were affected by the pandemic and were unhappy with the way the government was managing it.

“The prime minister said yesterday that he was committed to empowering the youths but then again his government is attempting to punish them for voicing out their grievances,” they said.

Batu Pahat police said 20 youths, aged between 16 and 28, were arrested on Friday. The police had obtained a four-day remand against them.

Their detention is scheduled to end tomorrow and it is not known whether police would seek to remand them further.

Investigations found that around 40 people had put up a roadblock with motorcycles and cars for 15 minutes to draw the attention of motorists, apart from putting up a banner with the words #KerajaanGagal while setting off flares and firecrackers.

The Johor state Umno Youth wing had said they would assist those arrested by police through their legal aid programme.

Johor Umno Youth offers help for ‘kerajaan gagal’ protesters

PETALING JAYA: Johor Umno Youth has offered free legal aid for the group of youths who were arrested over a recent anti-government protest in the state.

In a statement, the wing’s vice chief, Mohd Fared Khalid, said there was no hidden agenda in their offer, nor did it mean they supported the youths’ actions.

“It is an initiative to help the affected families who do not have the financial capacity to hire a lawyer, more so during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the movement control order and the pandemic,” he said.

On Thursday, a video clip of a street protest in Parit Raja, near Batu Pahat, Johor, was posted online and quickly went viral on social media.

It showed a group of motorists and motorcyclists blocking a busy intersection, burning flares and setting ablaze a banner with the words “Kerajaan Gagal” on it.

Police arrested 20 youths over the incident.

Fared said the free legal aid was not aimed at interfering with the police investigations and that they would give the authorities room to complete their probe.

He also reminded all parties against using youths in the state for political gimmicks and that youths should also be wary of being used by “irresponsible parties”.

He said the legal aid, offered by the Johor Umno Youth Legal Secretariat covered legal advice, representation and the necessary paperwork, with other costs being borne by the families of those arrested.

Investigations into the incident are being carried out under Sections 144, 269, and 505 (b) of the Penal Code, Section 8 of the Explosives Act 1957, Section 48 of the Road Transport Act, and the Prevention and Control of Infections Diseases Ordinance 2021.