Police Arrest Seven During Protest Against Sabah Village S Emco Extension
Police arrested seven people today who were involved in a protest against the extension of the enhanced movement control order (MCO) on Kampung Muhibbah Raya in Tawau, Sabah.
Tawau district police chief Peter Umbuas confirmed the arrests. He said that the men had violated MCO standard operating procedures (SOP) by holding a gathering.
According to several activists and their social media accounts, the 3pm protest was held just outside the enhanced MCO area at Kampung Muhibbah Raya to urge the government not to extend the order.
"We were protesting because most of the villagers here depend on daily wages, and with the enhanced MCO imposed on them, they cannot fend for themselves.
"They were also not given proper assistance (to survive during the lockdown). So we are calling for the government not to extend the order," one of the activists told Malaysiakini when contacted today.
A protester arguing with police personnel at Kampung Muhibbah Raya, Tawau.
Malaysiakini learned that among those arrested include Sabah-based social activists Mukmin Nantang, Mohd Azwan Irwan and relatives of villagers inside the lockdown perimeter.
A Facebook live video of the protest showed a group of some 10 individuals holding placards in the middle of a road, which is believed to be the main access road into Kampung Muhibbah Raya.
As they were posing for photos with the placards, a team of police officers were seen approaching the group before an argument ensued between one of the protesters and police and soon followed by the arrests.
Peter told Malaysiakini that the men had been taken to a police station to facilitate investigations.
"The group held the protest because they were upset with the implementation of enhanced MCO and MCO in Tawau.
"They have violated SOP (by protesting), and we are looking into whether they have committed other violations," the police officer said.
Peter, however, declined to comment on claims that the villagers under enhanced MCO were not given assistance, saying that it is not under the police's purview.
"That matter is under the purview of Disaster Operations Management and its teams. I cannot comment on this," he said.
Yesterday, the government announced the extension of Kampung Muhibbah Raya's enhanced MCO for another 14 days, from April 25 until May 8, 2021.
The Health Ministry decided on this step after continuously recording new cases in the lockdown area.
As of yesterday, the health authority had performed 622 swab tests on villagers there, of which 70 came back positive while 310 are still pending results.
Muda cries foul
Meanwhile, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) secretary-general Amir Hadi criticised the arrests and called for the protestors immediate release.
"These arrests are proof that the Perikatan Nasional government does not respect the people's freedom of speech.
"It is also proof that they have failed to carry out standard operating procedures that can combat the spread of Covid-19 and take care of the people's welfare at the same time.
"I urge the police to free all those who have been arrested [...]," he said in a statement. - Mkini
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