Published on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 15:06
PETALING JAYA: Six non-commission army officers were called for investigations by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) over their participation of the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat 112.
The six were investigated under the section 89 of Armed Forces Act 1972 for causing harm to the service, said Asri Buang, the president of Pahlawan (Pertubuhan Prihatin Bekas Anggota Keselamatan Malaysia).
He said that the six who participated in the rally on their own capacity, while off-duty, were called a few days after the rally was held. The MAF found out about their participation because of their photos were uploaded on social network, Facebook.
"They are not members of any non-governmental organisation or political party, but participated in the rally with the intention of understanding the political development in our country," he said.
Asri said that section 89 of the Act had a wide and vague definition as to what is considered harmful to the service, adding that any army officer who does not wear his clothes or shoes properly could also be accounted for the same offence. The punishment for this offence could be a dismissal.
He told the press today that of the six non-commission officers, five are from the Navy and one from the Army. However, he is unsure if there are more officers were called for similar reason.
Asri, who is a retired army officer, pointed out that under the same law, an army officer has the freedom to participate in any legal gathering, under the condition that he do not join any non-governmental organisation or political party, as well as not causing harm to national security.
Therefore, Asri said that Pahlawan views this matter seriously and is ready to offer free legal services to them, as long as they have not been involved in offenses such as running away from duty, drug abuse and crime.
According to the procedure, Asri explained that an officer who was investigated and finally charged will be called to appear before Commanding Officer in his respective battalion, and the Commanding Officer will read out the charge to the accused, and if the accused pleads guilty, he will be sentenced on the same day.
If the accused officer claims trial, he will be called for another re-trial. During the re-trial, the same charge will be read to him and if he still pleads not guilty, his case will go to Court Martial.
Asri said this is where Pahlawan can step in and offer them legal services.
PKR strategy chief Rafizi Ramli added that the officers must know their rights and not subjected to arbitrary punishment by the Commanding Officer. However, whether the six choose arbitrary punishment or Court Martial is up to their decision, "...we are here to make sure they know their options".