Police grill PKR rep’s aides over January ‘kangkung’ protest

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BUKIT MERTAJAM: Police yesterday questioned three PKR and DAP members in a criminal defamation investigation over the “kangkung” flash mob held on Jan 15 this year, in which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was lampooned.

The three are aides of PKR’s Machang Bubok assemblyman Lee Khai Loon who had led the flash mob protest against price hikes in which he satirically stuffed spinach (kangkung in Malay) into the mouth of a cut-out image of Najib.

The act was in reference to a speech by Najib which was widely aired over social media in which he defended his administration’s efforts to control prices of goods, citing cheaper kangkung in the market as an example.

PKR’s Ho Leng Hong, Andrew Chin, a councillor with the Seberang Prai Muncipal Council (MPSP), and DAP’s Tan Xin Ying showed up at the Seberang Prai Tengah police headquarters with their lawyers and supporters at 2.15pm.

Lee told reporters he was surprised that his assistants were wanted for questioning eight months after the protest.

“I myself had already given my statement on the case way back in January,” the lawmaker said. “Now all my staff are being asked to give their statements. The three were among many others who were present at the flash mob gathering.”

He said they would give full cooperation and hoped the police would be professional in the investigation.

The case is being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation. Ten police reports were lodged nationwide against the flash mob.

Penang PKR deputy chairman Datuk Law Choo Kiang said he hoped this would not put undue pressure on staff members of other Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers.

“They should be able to carry out their work by being at ease,” he said.

The latest move by police comes after a series of arrests of opposition lawmakers in Penang.

Last week, three DAP reps were arrested over their involvement in the state government’s Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS), which has been deemed illegal.

State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer and Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik were arrested after 155 PPS members were detained during the state-level Merdeka Day parade on Aug 31. They were all released on police bail.

On Aug 27, Rayer was slapped with two separate sedition charges over his controversial “celaka celaka Umno” (damn damn Umno) remark on May 20 during a state legislative assembly sitting, and over his explanation of what he had said in a ceramah in Jalan Delima on May 22.

His comment was followed by a rowdy protest on May 21 in which a mob burst into the assembly chamber. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 9, 2014.