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Malaysian government arrests political opponents

Four detained in wake of election

Malaysian government arrests political opponents

Malaysian police officers escort student activist Adam Adli Halim at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur (Hilmi Jaafar/AFP) reporter, Bangkok

May 24, 2013

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Malaysian police have arrested four opposition figures, including a prominent parliamentarian, in an apparent crackdown on government critics less than three weeks after elections.

Among those arrested is Tian Chua, vice president of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance), led by Anwar Ibrahim. He tweeted on May 23 that police had taken him into custody just as he was about to board a flight in Kuala Lumpur. 

Malaysia’s Home Affairs Ministry also released a statement yesterday saying that it had raided the offices of two major opposition publications, Harakah and Suara Keadilan, and confiscated copies of their publications.

Another man, Adam Adli Halim, 24, has been charged with sedition after reportedly making a speech at a post-election rally in which he called on Malaysians to “take back power” from the government.

Two others, Tamrin Ghafar, the son of a former deputy prime minister who is allied with the opposition, and Haris Ibrahim, leader of an anti-government group, were also detained.

While the incumbent United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main party in the ruling coalition, continues to hold onto power, its parliamentary majority has been weakened.

Opposition activists claim that widespread vote rigging, including bogus ballots, have allowed the Prime Minister Najib Razak's government to retain power despite its weaker support base. Najib, who is preparing for a likely leadership battle in the coming months, denies the claims. 

Malaysian politics has been effectively dominated by the same coalition since 1957, when British colonial rule ended.  The government has launched various crackdowns on political opponents over the past decade.

It released a statement yesterday saying the detentions came after the police received numerous reports against the accused by members of the public.

“In such circumstances the police are required to investigate and are following due and proper process," the statement said

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