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Malaysian police arrest opposition leaders
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (UPI) May 24, 2013

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Malaysia's deputy prime minister said there was no government interference in the case of three opposition leaders and an activist who were arrested this week.

Police charged those arrested, including Keadilan party Vice President Tian Chua, under the Sedition Act following their calls for protests against alleged fraud in national elections earlier this month.

Despite opinion polls showing the ruling coalition led by the Barisan Nasional party had been behind other parties, it won but with a much reduced popular vote.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's governing Barisan Nasional -- National Front -- party won 133 of the 222 seats in Parliament. It was the National Front's 13th consecutive general election victory since Malaysia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957.

The major opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat -- People's Alliance -- led by Anwar Ibrahim, was quick to condemn the results.

Ibrahim, 65, defied police warnings that his protest in the MBPJ Football Stadium in Kelana Jaya near Kuala Lumpur -- which attracted upward of 40,000 people -- was illegal.

He also called for protests around the country, putting many police forces on alert and investigating protesters.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the arrests of opposition party members were a matter for the police and courts, Malaysia's national news agency Bernama reported.

"We don't want to interfere because [police] found there was a basis to remand those arrested," he said

Muhyiddin, who was in Phuket for briefings on tourism, told reporters the arrests weren't politically linked.

He said he believed police made the arrests to prevent chaos in the country, Bernama reported.

"What is important is the people want to see the authorities act firmly toward maintaining peace and security," he said.

He also said Malaysia didn't practice the "law of the jungle" and opposition parties should respect the democratic process and try their luck in the next general election.

Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has said the election results would stand.

The BBC reported that Tian Chua said on his Twitter feed he was detained as he was about to board a flight.

Tian reportedly said Malaysians shouldn't be "overtaken by fear" and "continue to assemble peacefully and have faith."

Student activist Adam Adli could face a possible three years in jail and there were reports of police raiding newspaper offices and seizing opposition newspapers, the BBC reported.

In a statement, the Keadilan party called for the immediate release of Tian and an end to"politically motivated prosecution" of opposition members and activists.


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