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Group may face legal action

Unknown - February 1, 1997

Kuala Lumpur – Umno members who were part of the group which disrupted the second Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor (Apcet II) on Nov 9 may be facing suits for "assault and battery."

Spokesman for the Apcet II participants Tian Chua said the Attorney-General's Chambers' decision to drop charges against 60 of the organisers and participants proved that the Apcet meeting was legal and within their legitimate rights to organise.

"Apart from the four Youth members already charged by the Attorney-General, we have identified another 10 to 20 members whom we will file suits against in the next six weeks," Chua told a press conference outside the Jalan Tun H. S. Lee police station.

Former executive director of Centre for Peace Initiatives (Cenpeace) Fan Yew Teng said they would sue the Umno members to "teach them a lesson not to take the law into their own hands."

"We fully intend to see justice take its proper course. We will be considering all our options," said another participant, Parti Rakyat Malaysia president Dr Syed Husin Ali.

Lawasia Standing Committee on Human Rights' acting chairman Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said a public apology should be extended to the organisers of Apcet II by MCA and MIC leaders.

"Both Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Samy Vellu announced their support for the Umno Youth members on television, the same night the Apcet meeting was disrupted," he said.

Bar Council chairman Hendon Mohamed urged the Government to consider compensating those who were detained, for the loss of their liberties, and called for the prosecution of the other demonstrators.

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang hailed Mohtar's decision to clear the 60 participants as restoring faith in the independence and integrity of the Attorney-General's office.

Lim said the Attorney-General's chambers should consider prosecuting Umno Youth chief Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for having admitted to "masterminding" the Apcet II disruption.

"In Malaysia, no one is above the law, not even the King. No one has the right to take the law into his own hands with impunity and expect to get away with it," said Jelutong Member of Parliament Karpal Singh.