KUALA LUMPUR: Two DAP assemblymen – P. Gunasekaran of Seremban Jaya and G. Saminathan of Gadek – were among seven people arrested for alleged involvement with Sri Lanka-based Tamil militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today, drawing shock and incredulity from party members.
Most expressed disbelief that the duo could be held for involvement with an organisation that is known to have been defunct for a decade.
Federal Special Branch counter-terrorism principal assistant director DCP Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, who confirmed the arrests when contacted by theSun, said the suspects had been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma). Under this legislation, they can be held for up to 28 days.
He said the seven were being investigated for allegedly supporting and promoting the cause of the LTTE.
The arrests were made in an integrated operation carried out by Bukit Aman in Malacca, Kedah and Negri Sembilan between 9am and noon yesterday.
Ayob Khan told a press conference later that the suspects had been under surveillance since November.
The first to be arrested was Gunasekaran who had, on Nov 28 last year, attended an
LTTE “Heroes Day” celebration in Malacca and delivered a speech in which were “elements of support for the militant group”.
He said the assemblyman was also found to have distributed flyers and LTTE items.
Saminathan, who is also a state executive councillor in Malacca, was the second to be arrested, also for speaking at the Heroes Day event in support of the LTTE.
The others were a scrape dealer, an insurance agent, a taxi driver, a technician and a restaurant operator. They were said to have in their possession LTTE items as well as for promoting the LTTE cause on social media.
In an immediate reaction, Klang MP Charles Santiago claimed that there had not been any attempt to revive the LTTE so, “I wonder what the motive is behind the arrests”.
“The LTTE has been defunct for a number of years so I am actually baffled by the arrests,” he added.
In Penang, Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy expressed shock at the arrests.
“I wonder how praying for dead Tamil civilians could be construed as support for a defunct outfit,” he told theSun.
MP for Jelutong R. S. N. Rayer said the police could investigate them but there was no need to place them under restrictive detention.
Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said the use of draconian laws such as Sosma should not have been allowed by a Pakatan Harapan government that was trying to create a greater democratic space.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said a legal team led by Bukit Glugor MP Ram Karpal and Rayer had been set up to represent Gunasekaran and Saminathan.
He noted that both the legislators “were praised by the police for co-operating fully and calmly during their arrests”.
He said DAP national vice-chairman M. Kulasegaran would represent the party in liaising with the relevant authorities.
The LTTE spent decades fighting to carve out a separate independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka before they were defeated in May 2009.