Eight questions that a full and credible public inquiry into the “428” Bersih 3.0 violence must provide answers

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is leading the Barisan Nasional propaganda campaign of damage control to minimize the adverse fall-outs from the government mishandling of Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” at Dataran Merdeka for free and fair elections with wild and far-fetched allegations, for instance, that Bersih 3.0 was an attempt by the opposition to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

In actual fact, Bersih 3.0 marked the greatest awakening, empowerment and unity among Malaysians transcending race, religion, class, region, gender or age to demonstrate their love for the country and concern for clean elections for a clean Malaysia.

What is undeniable is that Bersih 3.0 is proving to be a bigger public relations disaster for Najib and his image as a “reformer” and “transformer” with every passing day.

Suhakam has said that the “heavy-handed and arbitrary manner” in which the police used “disproportionate and unwarranted force against the participants of the rally as well as members of the media” in the Bersih 3.0 rally was “unacceptable conduct” while the Bar Council has said that police brutality against protestors during Bersih 3.0 had worsened as compared to the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 last year.

Yesterday, Suhakam announced findings that the police had violated human rights during Bersih 2.0 when they fired tear gas in the vicinity of public amenities like Tung Shin Hospital, Chinese Maternity Hospital and KL Sentral, where public safety was at risk.

Can there can any doubt of the outcome of any full and credible public inquiry on Bersih 3.0 into the human rights violations in the police rampage of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, whether firing tear gas, chemically-lacked water cannon, brutality and violence against peaceful protestors and media representatives?

The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar has said that he wants justice for all parties concerned, including members of the media and policemen who were injured.

I agree with the IGP that “Just because there are hooligans in the police force does not mean that the entire organization comprise thugs” – and this is why a full and credible public inquiry must be held to ensure that there is justice for all the Bersih 3.0 victims of brutality and violence – whether police, media representatives or peaceful protestors.

I also agree that the police had acted with utmost restraint and professionalism until about 3 pm last Saturday or half an hour after the announcement by the Bersih 3.0 organisers of the ending of the rally and calling for dispersal of the protestors.

It was after 3 pm that there was a breakdown of police restraint and professionalism, where there was a police rampage of violence and brutality.

There are at least eight questions that a full and credible public inquiry into the “428” Bersih 3.0 violence must provide answers.

1. Why was there a police rampage of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, whether tear-gas, chemically-laced water cannon or physical violence and brutality against peaceful protestors after 3 pm and lasting some five hours that day?

2. For those who broke through the “barricade”, why the police did not just take action against them instead of punishing the vast peaceful majority who had gathered in peace and wanted to disperse in peace?

3. Why were some police personnel without name tags and numbers?

4. Why were media and press representatives targeted and attacked by the police, with cameras smashed, memory cards removed?

5. Why were some of the LRT stations ordered to close after the tear gas/water cannot rampage started? Was it the intention of the police to disperse the people or to “trap” them to “teach them a lesson”?

6. Was it it true that the airwaves were purposely jammed so that communication was hindered causing further confusion in the midst of a stressful situation?

7. Who in the police force or the Home Ministry who were responsible in giving the greenlight for these human rights violations and disregard of principles for the use of force and firearms by police personnel?

8. Whether the time has come for the full implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission of Inquiry to create an efficient, professional, incorruptible world-class police service focussed on the three core functions of keeping crime low, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights – in particular the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)?

According to the parliamentary time-table, Parliament is scheduled to meet for 12 days from 11th to 28th June, while the 2013 Budget Parliament is to begin on 24th September and to go on for 34 days until 27th November – a 34-day meeting. The 2013 Budget Day is scheduled for Friday, 28th September 2012.

Najib has to decide in the next few days whether to hold general elections in June or to push it back further.

(Speech at the opening of Wisma Penang DAP)

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 12:34 pm

    ///1. Why was there a police rampage of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, whether tear-gas, chemically-laced water cannon or physical violence and brutality against peaceful protestors after 3 pm and lasting some five hours that day?///

    The police were either unprofessional or untrained in handling a big rally or were instructed by their political masters to deliberately cause a rampage to prove to Bersih organizers that there was no such thing as peaceful protest.

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 1:21 pm

    If the protesters broke barriers, then just push them back and remain in your ground and territory. Just ‘protect’ Dataran Merdeka.

    Why then the necessity to chase them all over central KL in all the alleys and streets firing tear gas and beating them up? Wouldn’t this be tantamount to going beyond ‘defending’ the Dataran? Would the police action be seen as they being the aggressors and not vice versa?

    There were apparently no warnings for the to disperse. The police just started firing tear gas and shooting the water canons.

    Something isn’t right here and needs investigation.

    Would a RCI be more appropriate to look into the overall incident?

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:08 pm

    There’s certainly much more than what that meets the eye judging from the 8 questions. They guarantee the matter of Bersih 3.0 on 28th April will not end so quickly. We’ll have to see as the situation becomes clearer over time which side bears the fallout or reap the advantage more. Suffice to say DAP Vice chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has gone public that he opposes in principle to “Bersih 3.0 breaking the law (independent from question whether its good or just law) and lately that “Bersih 3 0 organisers are not a group of angels descended from heaven who are completely blameless… (They ) should accept that there are substantial elements within the rally from people whose intentions were to create havoc and cause chaos as long as it is possible…Instead of shifting all the blame on the police they need to realise that they are at fault too…”

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:28 pm

    Whether one agrees with Tunku Abdul Aziz or not, it is unfortunate that he was earlier chastised/rebuked by DAP leadership for publicly breaking party line instead of just voicing his dissenting opinion within party close doors. The Tunku is a man reputed for integrity and independence of mind. You can’t keep such a man zipped up. Its not that he’s a BN mole! [Even an independent and reputable magazine like The Economist questioned Opposition leader’s presence during the rally saying that he had some explaining to do with regards to accusations that he had incited Bersih supporters to push side police barriers].
    Neither should the DAP that holds claims to transparency and democratic principles (including right to dissent). Isn’t that the basis that DAP/PR demands the minority report to the PSC on electoral reform be attached and reported to Parliament as well? Now in what way is DAP different from UMNO/BN that it criticizes when it behaves the same as UMNO/BN in brooking no public dissent of its party’s stalwarts? Is the DAP & by extension Pakatan such a weak party/coalition that it cannot show itself permissive of conscientious dissent within its rank on grounds of principle or differences of opinion?

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