Singapore, Dec 12 (UNI) Twenty nine people, most of them members of opposition, were arrested from outside the Malaysian parliament for illegaly gathering for a demonstration in protest of a Bill seeking to extend the retirement age of Election Commission officials.
Those arrested included the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secretary-general Khalid Ibrahim and information chief Tian Chua, the Islamic party PAS treasurer Mohd Hatta Ramli and central committee member Dr Lo'Lo Ghazali, besides several members of various NGOs.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar confirmed yesterday's arrests, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported.
Five representatives of opposition leaders and NGOs, headed by PAS elections director Mustafa Ali, were also arrested after they entered Parliament House without permission to hand over a memorandum to Members of Parliament, calling for the rejection of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2007 which extends by one year to 66 years the retirement age of members of the Election Commission (EC).
However, the Bill was passed by a majority of 189 votes despite the petitioned memorandum.
Prominent among the civil society activists who were arrested were -- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Voice of Public, Malaysia), executive director Yap Swee Seng, member of the Writers Alliance of Media Independence Wong Chin Huat, founder of Community Communication Centre Mein Lor, and Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry.
The arrested were released during the day, however, they would be charged in court next Tuesday, said Criminal Investigation Department Deputy Director I Acryl Sani.
The Malaysian government is facing a series of protests from the opposition politicians and NGOs to hold free and fair general elections, expected next year.