Harsh treatment of young female activists unacceptable, says MCA

PETALING JAYA: The harsh treatment of young female activists by authorities in the past week is inexcusable, says MCA.

Its spokesperson Saw Yee Fung said that the heavy-handedness of the police in the arrests of Heidy Quah Gaik Li, 26, and Sarah Irdina, 20, would be to the detriment of the nation when young women leaders fear to speak up in the future.

“MCA has been observing the recent arrests of young activists with worry.

“This week, we have seen the arrest of activists of both genders by the police for the mere crime of voicing up.

“While the heavy-handedness is deplored, the ill-treatment of young female activists is especially unacceptable,” said Saw in a statement on Sunday (Aug 1).

She questioned why Quah, who exposed the inhumanity at an immigration detention centre, was put through two hours of questioning by the police.

“Quah exposed how a woman detained at an immigration detention centre in 2018 with her newborn baby was subjected to unsanitary conditions and abusive treatment.

“Instead of being thanked for bringing this to light, Quah was put through two gruelling hours of questioning by the police, before being slapped with charges under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which provides a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment for up to one year or both, if convicted.

“Also in the same period, was the arrest of 20-year old Sarah, the founder of the youth group Misi Solidariti.

“This young lady recounted her experience after she was arrested by police – being held in custody for over 10 hours while being subjected to harsh questioning, being forced to strip to her underwear, and then being made to sleep on a plank in a cell with a CCTV camera and an exposed toilet.

“How are we supposed to encourage young women leaders to speak up in the future when this is the treatment they receive?

“MCA stands by their plight, and is ready to help them if necessary. Such treatment is inexcusable,” said Saw.

On July 27, Quah, the founder of NGO Refuge for Refugees, pleaded not guilty at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to a charge of sharing offensive content over a Facebook post that alleged mistreatment of refugees at the Immigration detention centre.

On July 29, Bukit Aman’s Prosecution and Law Division (D5) had arrested Sarah and confiscated her mobile phone over a tweet urging the resignation of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and being part of the #Lawan protest held at Dataran Merdeka on July 31.