Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fathers Day appeal by Hindraf Kids- Police finally give way.

Teddies left outside palace gates
Mkini - Tarani Palani Jun 14, 08 4:46pm

The intention of 48 children of ISA detainees to present Father's Day gift of teddy bears to the Agong was dampened by the police and a no-show from palace representatives.

Chanting "Daulat Tuanku", the children carrying teddy bear bouquets accompanied by about 30 adults were stopped from approaching the palace by police who formed a barricade 500 meters from the palace gates at around 10.40 this morning.Policemen, already alert after an earlier arrest of three opposition parliamentarians, were quick to gather around the crowd.A senior police officer approached event leaders who were Hindraf leaders - RS Thananenthiran (national coordinator), S Jayathas (national information coordinator) and A Vathemurthy (Perak state coordinator) - requesting that the crowd to disperse immediately. Thananenthiran then shouted that "We are Malaysian citizens who would like to present a gift to the father of all Malaysians."There were continuous pleas from the crowd which argued that as Malaysian citizens they should have the right to gather in front of the palace without a permit. "Tourists are allowed to gather and present gifts, so why can't we? This must be changed. We have all the right to rally peacefully," said Vathemurthy.

The heat under the strong sun caused some of the children - from five to 15 years of age - to begin crying in discomfort. Thananenthiran then asked the police to be compassionate with the children. The police officer fired back that although he loved children, they were being only being 'utilised' by Hindraf leaders.

After a discussion between Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu and Briekfields OCPD, Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, the police force - consisting of 30 officers and 20 FRU men - withdrew to allow the children to march closer to the palace gates.Not 'utilizing' the childrenBut there was no one on the receiving end of the gifts of teddy bears as the king was not in the palace and no representatives were present.Liu subsequently accepted all the teddy bears from the kids one by one.

The teddy bears were then left lying arranged at the pavement of the palace gates. Speaking to reporters later, Liu said that the event was to express the children's regret that their fathers were detained under the ISA. "These are just children who want their fathers to be free. That's all. That's why Pakatan Rakyat is here to help out as well."Liu defended the people's right to assemble but he also pleaded for understanding that the police also have their job to do.He chided those who claimed that the children were only being 'used' by adults. "Nobody should say that. The kids are victims as well. They recognise that the fathers are not present in their lives. We should not underestimate that the kids don't know how to think for themselves."

Vathemurthy expressed regret that the intention to present the gifts to the king did not take place, but he thanked the police for their consideration and cooperation.The crowd eventually dispersed around 12 noon and the usual flow of tourists were allowed around the palace gates.