Cop: Use of excessive force was wrong

Teoh El Sen | July 13, 2011
Free Malaysia Today

There were special police teams who were already targeting those leaders behind the rally, such as Bersih chairman S Ambiga, says a policeman.


KUALA LUMPUR: The police force has been denying the use of violence during the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9. But among them is one lone voice who condemned the use of violence on the protesters.

A brave policeman said the use of excessive force when arresting Bersih 2.0 marchers was uncalled for and wrong.

The policeman who was in charge of making arrest spoke to FMT on condition of anonymity.

“Those policemen who hit the people are in the wrong. They can actually be charged… Even if you want to say you were forced to do it, that you were attacked first, it should not reach such a stage as what we’re seeing in the video footages.”

“Usually when we make arrests, the most we do if the person struggles and fights back is to make him lie down and use our knees to stop him. Not continue to beat or kick him, even after you handcuff him. That is wrong.”

He said on that day, he witnessed groups of policemen crowding around a suspect and hitting him, with some even using batons.

Asked if there were any instructions from the top to start using force on demonstrators, he said that the orders did not come from the top officer who briefed them a week before the rally.

“But there were other high-ranking officers who told us to just hit if we felt like (the situation warranted it ), using violence. However, we were also told to assess the situation and the location before using violence ,” said the policeman.

The policeman said that he himself did not agree with hitting people and he refrained from using too much force.

“Also, there are a lot of people taking photos including our own photographers. We have to think properly before we do something like that; we could be charged in court and I am not sure if my superiors would defend me if I did something like that,” he said.

Pressure and stress

Explaining why he thought many policemen were seen using excessive force, the policeman said the amount of pressure and stress could have been a factor.

“There were many who were frustrated, tired, and hungry that day. We had very little sleep and had to be on standby early in the morning and were without food until late in the afternoon. There is also a lot of pressure from our superiors… and when things start to unfold, you become different, angry,” he said.

The policeman said the previous Sunday and Monday, the team of more than 1,000 in the “arrest squads” were briefed by Bukit Aman criminal investigation department director Mohd Bakri Zinin.

“We were told ‘don’t be afraid, just arrest’.”

“We were ordered to arrest those wearing yellow T-shirts and those who refused to disperse when ordered, including those who fought back or insulted the police,” the policeman said, adding that policemen were roped in from all the states except Sabah and Sarawak.

He said that in the police crackdown, there were two types of arrests – arrests of quality and without quality.

“Those from the first category were those who wore Bersih T-shirts or those VIPs or leaders of the rally. They were brought to the Jinjang police station.”

“Those from the non-quality category were brought to the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) on Jalan Semarak. They were mostly protesters who refused to disperse and were brought there for documentation,” he said.

He said “arrest squads” consisted of teams of at least five people comprising one officer, three detectives and one photographer.

He added that the photographers, about 150 of them on that day, were there to capture photos of the protesters before and during the arrests, because previously many cases failed when brought to court due to a lack of photographic evidence.

“There were also some taking video. That is also why Home Minister (Hishammuddin Hussein) said that he has photographs and video evidence of almost all the action on that day, because we really have them,” he said.

Different instructions

There were special teams who were already targeting those leaders behind the rally, such as Bersih chairman S Ambiga.

On allegations that FRU personnel were shooting tear gas directly at the people, he said policemen are not supposed to do that. “That’s not right,” he said.

“We were also told if we feel like arresting, then just arrest. But the problem was there were a lot different superiors giving different instructions,” he said, adding that any policeman, regardless of rank, could make an arrest after telling the person to disperse.

He said that on Saturday, the strategy was to shoot tear gas and spray chemical-laced water from water cannons before the arrest squads moved in to make the arrests during the chaos.

“If we just went in like that, matilah kita, there were so many of protesters”.

However, he said at the end of the day “we are just doing our job, that’s all”.

“There is also too much pressure from third parties. The home ministry applies pressure on the police and police in turn pile the pressure on their men. The police should actually act under the King. It’s very hard like that,” he said.

He added that there are actually quite a number of policemen who support Bersih 2.0.

“I think I support the cause, too, but we’re just doing our jobs, right? There are actually many, even among officers, but we’re all under the home ministry. What can we do? Even when we receive those postal ballots, we already have our names on the letters, how can we vote for the opposition?”

On July 9, police fired tear gas and hosed down tens of thousands of Bersih supporters who took to the streets calling on the government to reform the election processes. A total of 1,667 people were arrested, said to be the largest haul of protesters in one single day in the history of the country.

Bersih estimated the turnout to be 50,000 and condemned police heavy-handedness which led to severe injuries, and a loss of life.

There have also been numerous photographs and videos surfacing online of instances of police beating protesters before arresting them. In one controversial case, the police are also alleged to have fired tear gas into the compound of a maternity hospital.

However, the police, who estimated the crowd at only 5,000 to 6,000, have consistently denied that excessive force has been used during the demonstration.

  1. #1 by dcasey on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 8:05 pm

    Good to see that we still have a few good men in the PDRM having some conscience in them.

  2. #2 by sherin lim on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 8:18 pm

    Dear brave policemen, can you please explain why we were cornered at jalan pudu. If they want us to be dispersed, why is it we are not given a way to run? There is no logic in the tactic imposed. If you really want the crowd to disperse, then give leeway for us to escape when the tear gas was shot.

  3. #3 by bruno on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 9:10 pm

    As the police officer said uncalled for,over excessive force was used.That was an indirect way of describing police burtality.Pictures don’t lie.The HM and IGP can collect thousands of photographs and send them to Dartmouth for verification to see whether they are authentic if they wanted to.

    If police brutality isn’t bad enough they had to even go overboard by attacking a women’s hospital.Has our once peaceful and multi racial nation turned into a police state of third world governments.And malaysia is a sitting member on the UNHRC.The UN members must all be blind or colorblind.What an huge embarrasment.

  4. #4 by rahmanwang on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 9:52 pm

    Ok come GE13 we the people of Malaysia will sack BN.
    Then we replace the Bodoh IGP.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 10:52 pm

    When have any Malaysians witness or read Police apologizing for wrong doings under Najib?
    When have you ever heard or read Najib listen to true Malaysians?
    His “People First. Performance Now” and “1Malaysia” proven time and again…just hollow words and slogans to fool Malaysians.
    But the Malaysians have proved to him…it is a Malaysian Malaysia all along and out in the streets they showed Najib…what it is….alive and getting stronger.
    He should feel very happy and proud.
    But no. He will say all at the streets are traitors.
    He ..Hisham and and Khairy are patriots.

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:39 pm

    It is a good sign that there are still police OFFICERS who understand reality from sloganeering! At the moment, even there are good civil servants around, they can’t do much until Putrajaya changes hand . So there is NO OTHER way!!

  7. #7 by yhsiew on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 12:08 am

    ///Doctors say cops fired tear gas into Tung Shin compound/// – The Malaysian Insider

    The doctors who signed the statement refuting claims by Dr Chua, Liow and the police are:

    Dr Ng Kwee Boon — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

    Datin Dr Low Paik See — Consultant Paediatrician

    Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin — Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist

    Dr Mazeni Alwi — Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist

    Dr David Quek — Consultant Cardiologist

    Dr Sheikh Johari Bux — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

    Dr Steve Wong — Consultant Plastic Surgeon

    Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa — Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon

    Dr Ng Swee Choon — Consultant Cardiologist

    Dr Mary Cardosa — Consultant Anaesthesiologist

    Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan — Consultant Chest Physician

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 12:15 am

    Dr Ng Kwee Boon — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
    Datin Dr Low Paik See — Consultant Paediatrician
    Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin — Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist
    Dr Mazeni Alwi — Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist
    Dr David Quek — Consultant Cardiologist
    Dr Sheikh Johari Bux — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
    Dr Steve Wong — Consultant Plastic Surgeon
    Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa — Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon
    Dr Ng Swee Choon — Consultant Cardiologist
    Dr Mary Cardosa — Consultant Anaesthesiologist
    Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan — Consultant Chest Physician

    Thank you for telling the truth that cops fired tear gas into Tung Shin compound.

  9. #9 by bruno on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 2:38 am

    Did anyone watch the semi-finals of the women’s world cup soccer which started around noon US, so must be around midnight over there.Before the start of the game members of both teams France and United States hold out a large banner.It says “NO TO RACIALISM” all in bold letters.Any of you lowdown Umno scumbags saw this.

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 3:50 am

    Wake up, mata-mata, don’t b used by your officers who acted as woof2 4 NR n Umno
    As 1 brave mata-mata said your officers will not save U when U r charged 4 wrong doings
    Remember rakyat r your bosses, not UmnoB, Nr, HH, etc

  11. #11 by raven77 on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 5:27 am

    OK…this will explain all those trigger happy deaths where the police found parangs, etc in victims booths…

  12. #12 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 5:57 am

    PDRM has no morals, no conscience, no qualms.

    PDRM has guns, canisters, cannons….but no balls to admit they are wrong.

    PDRM has no honesty, no integrity, no humanity.

  13. #13 by k1980 on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 7:34 am

    A group of 11 Tung Shin doctors and surgeons attached to the hospital have issued a damning statement, exposing the web of lies spun by the two MCA leaders, the hospital board and the police in an apparent bid to escape further censure from the public and the international bodies for violating world convention that hospitals are off-limits even during war.

    “What was most frightening and witnessed by many was the unprovoked violent assault within the hospital compounds and apprehension of several protesters who had merely ran into the hospitals to seek shelter from the tear gas and the water cannons!” the doctors said in the joint statement out on Wednesday.

    The group of 11 were on duty on July 9 when the police fired the toxic material into the Tung Shin compound to flush out supporters of the Bersih 2.0 rally, who had been forced to hide by over-aggressive FRU troops swinging batons in a bid to break up the crowd. The Tung Shin doctors also condemned the police for entering the hospital buildings in search of the fleeing marchers.

    Luckily these 11 are not in govt service, else they would have been transferred on 24-hour notice to the interior of Sarawak.

  14. #14 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 7:43 am

    All PR needs is to keep level headed as the nation heads to the next GE; BN will commit suicide with all their bankrupt reactions to the aspiration of the growing Malaysian younger population. They themselves have to believe their own sloganeering and they still think we just got our Merdeka! The twitters and facebooks have not impressed into their mind while they pursue their strategy of self-illusion. We must encourage them to continue such mindless tactics. Well can they change? No way! All they are interested in is to bluff their way through; thinking the nation has stood still! We should all celebrate!

  15. #15 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 7:55 am

    Statement by senior doctors of Tung Shin:

    “We, the undersigned doctors, wish not to enter into the polemics of the Bersih 2.0 march on 9th July 2011 but would like to clarify the inconvenient truth.

    “We are outraged at the incidents, and the subsequent responses from the authorities, to the events where tear gas and chemical-laced water were shot into the compounds of the Tung Shin and Chinese Maternity Hospitals, two adjacent buildings along Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, with scant regard for the safety of patients, staff and the general public who were at the buildings that afternoon,” the doctors said.

    Chua soil- lek and Liow tiong lai, one ex-health minister and one current health minister – now nowhere to bury your shame, nowhere to bury your face.

    Told u before, UMNO will be the death of MCA. Together, there is just one idiot too many.

    Ta, ta….see you on civil street when you lose your deposits in next GE. Nobody likes running dogs that curl their tails in the face of challenges.

  16. #16 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 8:03 am

    Some policemen – like this one- they know how to think even when hungry, lacking sleep or angry whilst doing their job. However one cannot say that for every one. So when the govt directed the police to put down the public rally it must always factor in the effects/consequences of action of both the good and bad or thinking or unthinking elements within the force & that things can, in moments of faceoff with the crowds, could go horribly wrong like shooting tear gas and chemical laced water into a hospital. It is easy to blame demonstrators – why you run to the hospital? Honestly what else you expect them to do? There’s no other way to go and disperse when in a pincer movement the police were coming from both sides. Anyone in the interest of self preservation in the fast developing panic, would have run to the hospital to seek sanctuary. Esp the elderly who couldn’t run that fast or farther. One has to be there to have a sense of the situation. At one moment these fierce looking fellows with shields and batons were stomping their feet, making noise by beating their shields with the batons, then as suddenly, they stopped and without further warning they charged, moving in fast. To escape the assault and prevent one’s head being cracked by the baton, everyone was jostling, and pushing in the retreat and the last time I recall, someone behind pushed, I fell, but luckily someone else pulled me up or else surely get stampeded.

  17. #17 by monsterball on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 8:18 am

    This policeman message give hopes to Malaysians that they are actually quite a large number supporting BERSIH and indirectly…supporting a CLEAN government….which really mean….the KOTOR BN must go.
    It gives hope to Malaysians…not all the policemen are of low quality and standard.

  18. #18 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 8:19 am

    Ambiga is right in telling Wall Street Journal that Putrajaya brought the negative image unto themselves. It could have easily defused Bersih challenge by acceding to granting the Merdeka stadium as venue when its organisers, after the King’s interceding, accepted the offer. In rigid determination to put down Bersih what has Putrajaya gained? Images of police brutality, iconic image of 65 year old Anne Ooi, flashed around the world’s media: whatever going to happen Malaysia’s moral standing in claiming a seat in UN Human Rights Council if she were to appear on Times Magazine’s cover dubbed as “Malaysian Lady of Liberty”?

    Just beore Bersih 2.0 I asked and many people (including middle class educated professionals who don’t frequently surf alternate media on the Net) didn’t even know what Bersih was about. Now even the Mamasans & GROs are talking about Bersih, police brutality and politics after looking at the images on YouTube! This is what Putrajaya reaps from an unimaginative response.

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