Archive for November 25th, 2007

Hindraf rally – excessive use of police force with firing of tear gas and water cannons

The excessive use of police force with the firing of tear gas and water cannons against the Hindraf gathering in Kuala Lumpur this morning to present a memorandum to the British High Commission is most high-handed, ham-fisted, undemocratic and a grave disservice not ony to the Malaysian Indian community but to Malaysia’s international reputation in wanting to be a first-world developed nation.

If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had “walked the talk” of creating a Malaysia with “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality”, today’s disgraceful display of excessive police force would not have happened.

Peaceful demonstrations and marches are common and accepted occurrences in First World developed nations which Malaysia aspires to become. As has been rightly pointed out recently, in Britain, Australia and other modern countries, when people wish to demonstrate, the police typically clear the way and make sure no one gets hurt. The streets belong to the people. And the police, like the politicians, are their servants. It is not the other way around as in Malaysia where the first reflex of the police and the government to any peaceful demonstration is to impose a ban and to fire tear gas and water cannons to deny Malaysians the fundamental right to a voice in national affairs.

During the world-wide anti-Iraq war demonstrations in late 2002, the Malaysian government had applauded mammoth peaceful demonstrations in the Western capitals, whether in London, Paris, Rome or Washington where crowds ranging from hundreds of thousands and even millions came out to peacefully voice their anti-war aspirations.

If the Police had issued a permit to Hindraf for their gathering to submit a memorandum to the British High Commission this morning, the whole incident would have ended in a peaceful, orderly and swift manner, which will not only be a credit to the police but to the nation’s international reputation as well.

This is a case where the Police has failed to make the important distinction between their role from that of their political masters in the Barisan Nasional. Read the rest of this entry »