SUHAKAM inquiry on Police Violence on April 28

Press Statement
Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
5 MAY 2012

While the government focuses on the breaching of the barricades at Dataran Merdeka by a few, and what they see as a threat to their power, there is a deafening and irresponsible silence about the unprecedented violence inflicted upon unsuspecting members of the public by the police force.

Whilst BERSIH 2.0 does not condone the breaching of the barricades, the legality of those barricades is questionable, as is the legality of the hurriedly obtained court order. We are also receiving information that much more was happening at the barricades than meets the eye.

The unanswered question still remains – who is responsible for the untold violence upon participants of the Duduk Bantah that occurred after the first tear gas was fired?

Evidence based on medical reports of some of those who were detained by the police appear to show that some members of the police force were out to punish those who wore BERSIH 3.0 t-shirts, anti-Lynas t-shirts or any yellow t-shirts, by inflicting excessive and completely unjustified violence on them.

Some detainees were attacked at the time of arrest, when they were in shops dining, or about to board LRTs while others were attacked after arrest and despite the absence of struggle. Some were alleged to have been assaulted by over 30 police personnel. Many speak of having to “run the gauntlet” of police personnel and beaten repeatedly before being loaded onto police trucks.

The brutality suggests that a segment of the police force on duty that day had acted with vengeance against BERSIH 3.0 participants whether due to orders given to them or because they had lost control. There are too many reports of police officers who were wearing blue police uniforms but without their names and police identity numbers so as to prevent the victims of violence from identifying the perpetrators of police violence.

In addition to BERSIH 3.0 participants, it must not be forgotten that more than 12 photographers and journalists were assaulted, intimidated or detained by police while reporting the rally, and cameras, memory cards and video equipment were taken away.

Given the violence towards members of the media, we find it shameful that fellow members of the mainstream media, continue with their blatant censorship of the news on the violence committed against civilians by the police. It is at this critical time that the media must step up to the plate, serve the interests of justice and report the truth and the whole truth. In not doing so, they fail the rakyat and their fellow journalists, many of whom (including those in the mainstream media) are now bravely voicing their concerns. We support these journalists who are claiming their rights as professionals.

The proposed independent panel

The “independent panel” that is to be set up is to apparently look into violence against journalists only. What of violence against the other participants? Is that unimportant to the government? BERSIH 2.0 calls upon SUHAKAM to conduct an urgent independent inquiry into one of the most extensive acts of violence perpetrated by the authorities upon the people of Malaysia.

The Rejection of Stadium Merdeka

As to the rejection of the stadium by BERSIH as a reason for the violence, this is wholly without basis. The offer for Stadium Merdeka came too late for BERSIH 2.0 to re-organise its event. It is evident from the vast number of people who turned up that day that any change in venue at the last minute would have created certain chaos on the day. We were therefore right in the decision not to change venue at short notice.

In hindsight, we believe it was also a good thing not to have accepted the Stadium Merdeka. Given the conduct and ill intent of some of the police force, the Stadium would have been a trap that would have been wholly unsafe for the participants.

Overthrowing the Government?

As far as the statement about overthrowing the government is concerned, BERSIH 2.0 rejects it entirely. BERSIH 2.0 wants free and fair elections. The Government has not explained how occupying Dataran Merdeka constitutes a threat to Government, or an attempt to overthrow the Government.

It is our wish that any changes to those who will ultimately represent us in government be made through the ballot box in elections that are clean and fair.

Which brings us back again to BERSIH’s demands. Are they all going to be implemented before the 13th G.E.? Are the EC Chairman and Deputy Chairman going to be asked to step down if it is confirmed they are UMNO members?

Those that choose to ignore the cry of over 250,000 people for clean and fair elections, by labelling it something else, insult the intelligence of the people. What we want is for candidates who win the elections to do so honourably. And what we need to see now are statesmen and stateswomen who handle the grievances of the people sensitively and responsibly.


The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 8:40 pm

    This much is clear from Bersih Steering Committee’s statement:-
    • it is supposedly politically non partisan as evinced by it “wish that any changes to those who will ultimately represent us in government be made through the ballot box in elections that are clean and fair.” Which means it doesn’t matter whether BN or PR as long as electoral process is clean and fair! It rejects any suggestion that it organized the event with a subterranean motive of overthrowing a constitutionally established government by demonstrations;
    • It demands accountability from “segment of police force” on acts of brutality and violence. Hence, it supports a public enquiry provided its independent by Suhakam with the cope of enquiry broadened beyond journalists to all participants who were victims of police brutality and enquiry;
    • Whilst Bersih questions the legality of barricades & the hurriedly obtained court order, it however “does not condone the breaching of the barricades”.
    • It defends its decision not to accept Stadium Merdeka’s offer as coming to late it would “have created certain chaos on the day”. However it does not explain how in not condoning the breaching of the barricades to enter into Dataran, it would not be any less chaotic to have such large crowd assemble on different points and venues on the main streets just behind police barricades.

  2. #2 by drngsc on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 9:14 pm

    Dear Bersih 2.0 steering committee,
    I wish to openly state,
    1. Your wisdom in not going to stadium Merdeka saved us untold injuries and casualties. If you assume that upon seeing the streets filled with yellow, the instructions given to the later set of Police was to hurt the protesters and teach us a lesson, then in the enclosed stadium, I fear to think what would have happened. Thank God.
    I believe that if the crowd on 428 was only a few thousand, then the first set of Police would not have been replaced at about 3pm. When they saw the hundreds of thousands out at 12noon, someone issued a second set of instructions. We saw the Police squads being changed at about 3pm.
    2. Whether Suhakam investigates or an ” independent” body investigates, makes no difference. The court of Public opinion ( there were easily 200,000 of us there who were eye-witnesses) have decided that the Police used excessive force against the people who were there after 3pm. Some who breached the barricade got what they deserve. But many innocent people, just wearing yellow were also beaten up. I have little confidence in “independent” investigations in Malaysia especially when the government is forming the “independent” panel. We know all the examples…………. Even RCI they are not afraid. Can you blame me for being skeptical.
    3. What shall we do when shameless leaders wish to be elected by “illegals” and “phantoms” and all manner of cheats? What shall we do? I hate and fear what choices we have left. I am sure that you all fear too.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. It is proving to be a tough task. We have to, but how? Bersih 2.0 steering committee. We are all with you. You need the wisdom of Solomon.
    God help Malaysia.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will.

  3. #3 by vsp on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:35 pm

    Let’s plan for Bersih 4.0 if the evil government is still bent on the status quo. The most appropriate place for this gathering is still the Dataran Merdeka. Dataran Merdeka was the place where independence was declared. At that time it was the British who were the colonists. After the British was kicked out, a worst form of colonialism took root. This body of colonists killed its parent, the old UMNO whose foundation was made up of ordinary Malays, led mostly by teachers. The UMNO Baru, led by a fake “Malay” from the Kerala Mamak stock, hijacked and appropriated the name of the old movement and transformed it into a party of rent seekers, whose only aim was to siphon off the wealth of the nation. In the process of raping the country dry, the UMNOputra destroyed the hallowed institutions of the land and use them against the people. The UMNOputras hoped to use the Malays against the other races but this has backfired on them badly. Since when the Mamak devil was tricked by a sleeping beauty, he made sure that the “1 Billion dollar” mastermind of the Scopene deal, who succeeded the sleeping beauty, is kept tightly in check.

    Bersih 4.0 must realize that reforms do not drop out of the sky and delivered on a silver platter by a recalcitrant government. Let’s carry out a civil disobedience movement and stop obeying bad laws. If the civil disobedience movement of Mahatma Gandhi was able to confound the greatest empire of its time, and if the contemporary Arab Spring movements can cleanse the dictatorial regimes of Egypt, Algeria, Libya and soon-to-be, Syria, this is a good omen for the long-suffering Malaysians to realize their goal: a clean and fair election. No evil regime can withstand the will of the people for long. Hidup Bersih!

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:38 pm

    ///In hindsight, we believe it was also a good thing not to have accepted the Stadium Merdeka. Given the conduct and ill intent of some of the police force, the Stadium would have been a trap that would have been wholly unsafe for the participants///- Bersih Steering Committee.

    This proceeds on assumption that whatever reasons and motivations behind certain section of PDRM’s going on the rampage of police brutality (after the breach of barriers at 3 pm) would equally apply and be relevant had the gathering been in Stadium Merdeka and surrounding areas. So far there is no basis to assume that the reasons and motivations behind police retaliation at 3 pm after breach of Dataran buffer barriers would equally apply in Stadium Merdeka. Indeed had it been at Stadium Merdeka (approved by authorities), who could be sure that there would be equally erected razor barriers that would be breached for police action to be activated?

  5. #5 by limkamput on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:40 pm

    I think Bersih and the Bar Council must seek justice for those hurt by the police for no apparent reason. I also think from now on Bersih shall never accept any enclosed area as venue for protest. The risk is just too high given the irrational and unpredictable behavior of our men in blue. As I see events unfolding each day in our country, one thing is clear, we shall never ever allow a government to stay in power for too long and we shall never ever allow third world tribalism to take root in our country again.

  6. #6 by limkamput on Saturday, 5 May 2012 - 10:52 pm

    How can we ever fight with both hands tied behind our back? Bersih’s call for free and fair election has enraged not just the ruling party, but through the ruling party the whole government machinery and its financing muscle. Just watch, from now on, there will be hundreds of state sponsored farting NGOs organizing counter rallies day after day. It does not matter these NGOs are not even registered or has only 20 members. They will be given sufficient finance, the maximum leeway to cast aspersion and the widest coverage in national media.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 1:24 am

    To some extent, the effectiveness of Bersih 3.0 has been blunted by our co-operative and compliant media (the press and TV) and other institutions who have slanted their reportings in favour of the government and bad-mouthing Bersih 3.0.

    The people in the rural constituencies and the many easily influenced voters are being given a biased picture – see Najib’s live telecast from Gua Musang for example.

    With rural constituencies having the majority of seats and weighted 6 to 1 in their favour, PR must therefore quickly contain the misinformation. Else, it will be tough going to take tenancy at Putrajaya.

    I really think the 13th GE is a do-or-die mission for PR. If it fails, then I see the PR coalition breaking up and many strong-men will have to leave the scene.

  8. #8 by Cinapek on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 1:53 am

    Even though Bersih 3 is over, a citizen group should challenge the legality of the Datuk Bandar’s order that the people be barred from assembling at the Dataran.

    Likewise, the court order issued should also be challenged in a court of law as to whether it violates the Federal Constitution.

    This is to clear any doubts and set a precedent for any future gatherings at the Dataran.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 7:19 am

    ///the legality of those barricades is questionable///

    It was said that the spot where the barricade was breached was not part of Dataran Merdeka. Nevertheless, the court did not give order to barricade Dataran but to prohibit people not to set foot on Dataran.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 8:50 am

    Its good Yhsiew questions in preceding post. It was the Bar Council’s constitutional law committee chairman Syahredzan Johan who first opined that the court order covered only the grounds of Dataran Merdeka and therefore it would not be unlawful for protestors to breach barricades erected on roads surrounding it. I wonder whether he read the judgment. According to news reports at the time immediately after judgment was given by magistrate Zaki Asyraf Zubir, the court order barred any gathering at “Dataran Merdeka, that is all the land surface bordering Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Jalan Raja and Jalan Kelab except the area occupied by the Selangor Royal Club”. To prevent Dataran from being accessed, the police, which knows this game, would have, in its application to the Court, covered also the mentioned roads which they required as buffer area to station themselves. Its sad we’re such a divided nation – between Anything But UMNO and Everything is UMNO – that people, even lawyers, have no time to look at legal fine print or the objective situation. It is as if one is locked in a mortal battle, do or die, now or never, everyone has to be partisan, hurl everything at the opposite side, never mind, twist, turn, hentam above or below the belt.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 8:58 am

    If anyone were challenge on legal technicality, the court would say its reasonable for police to erect a barricaded buffer zone to enforce the off limit Dataran. Its difficult to argue one can breach the buffer barricade because Bersih Ambiga said said Bersih would only attempt to persuade the police to open the barricades surrounding the iconic square but ” we will not break the law”, meaning the perimeters set up by barricades were already accepted and indeed were observed by supporters right up to 3 pm.

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 9:53 am

    D blardi truth: After 3pm, 428, it was simply PURE NAKED PREMEDITATED polis aggression, violence against rakyat with d blessing of UmnoB/BN n IGP

    Mata2 DELIBERATELY attacked peaceful rakyat even far away fr DatM’sia, a PRE-PLANNED ACT

    Fortunate dat on 428 rakyat were not all grped in a confined stadium 2 b easily attacked by d blue k9s set free by UmnoB/BN

    Rakyat better KNOW fast dat dis UmnoB/BN regime has NO PRINCIPLE n is CRUEL, VIOLENT
    It allows its msm 2 LIE n TWIST facts – just look at d blatant LIE against Ozi Senator NX
    Don’t let UmnoB/BN scare rakyat as another 513 arrives next week

    HIGH time 2 get rid of UmnoB/BN – it’s NOW or NEVER, don’t allow UmnoB/BN 2 rig d electoral system further 2 ensure ETERNAL RULE

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 10:22 am

    Oooooooops, DatMerdeka not DatM’sia (above #10)

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 10:36 am

    4 rakyat who r waiting 4 BERSIH 4.0, do homework now
    Lesson #1, How 2 deal with tear gas

  15. #15 by yhsiew on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 10:55 am

    #9 Oops!

    “but to prohibit people not to set foot on Dataran” should be “but to prohibit people from setting foot on Dataran”.

  16. #16 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:08 am

    According to reports the application by police on request of AG for a restraining order on Dataran Merdeka was accompanied by a map. According to the map which accompanied the court order issuance, Dataran Merdeka and Jalan Raja (which circles the square) was subject to the restraining order and therefore the argument that barricades should not be erected in Jalan Raja (as its outside the Square) and if erected may be lawfully breached as the area was not covered in restraining order is misconceived. Besides its illogical because the police had inherent legal powers to set out barricades /road blocks whether for buffer or other reasons necessary for carrying out their duties, the breaching which by anyone would still be unlawful. If one follows Bar Council’s constitutional law committee chairman Syahredzan Johan’s argument to the end, then Police roadblocks in other entry points into KL (far away from Dataran) on 28th April 2012 may also be lawfully breached as they were not covered by the restraining order on Dataran or surrounding area like Jln Raja covered in the Map accompanying the court order.

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:24 am

    Having said the above I do agree that the rationale underpinning the court order – that Dataran is for national event of which Bersih’s assembly is not- is illogical as many events not necessarily national have beenheld in Dataran, and Stadium Merdeka allowed for Bersih also is historical in which the country’ declaration in independence was made! The Bar Council is right also that the Court order should not have been obtained ex parte (by one party) without hearing the other side (Bersih’s argument). Also it is strange that if DBKL as owner of Dataran objects to use of this space by Bersih it was the police and not DBKL that applied for and obtained the court order. What legal standing had the police in making such an application when its not owner of Dataran ? Police has the standing if the application were based on maintenance of public order but if that were argued to be contrary to citizen’s freedom of assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act,then at least on grounds that Dataran is “prohibited area’ under that Act, being next to a place of worship,the church opposite the road to Selangor Club. However I don’t think the restraining order was based on this ground of the Peaceful assembly Act being violated. It is true that a lot of uncertainties surround the procedures and rationale of the Court order obtained hurriedly but until its overruled its (unfortunately) still law, the breach of which attracts penal consequences.

  18. #18 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:25 am

    Google “how to deal with tear gas”
    Rakyat now know UmnoB/BN WILL ALWAYS order mata2 2 ATTACK them with tear gas n water cannons, B PREPARED 4 BERSIH 4.0
    B an informed citizen when exercising yr consitutional rights

  19. #19 by limkamput on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:26 am

    Somebody is farting non stop to defend the police. Okay, road blocks can be set up anywhere, but can the police stop you from crossing without probable cause?

  20. #20 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:31 am

    Why don’t you instead of arguing (emotionally), try barging through the road blocks and see if your defence of “lack of probable cause” will help in law?

  21. #21 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 11:42 am

    To explain to you the implications of the court order in reltion to police powers to enforce it as law (never mind such a court order may not be based on solid legal grounds – and hence it is appealable and may even in future be overruled by an appellate court (supposing its independent) – is not as Lim kam Put says “farting non stop to defend the police” or its action. Lim Kam Put, if you can’t appreciate what has been explained to you in order not to react emotionally to an issue, at least don’t just fart from your mouth with weeping statements that reflect how bad the situation of division we are in – that we cannot even look at an issue dispassionately and objectively and everything boils down to for and against the govt/police and nothing else in between!

  22. #22 by limkamput on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Sage, suppose you are stopped at the road block, there is nothing in you and the police also has nothing in them to find fault with you, can they still stop you from crossing the block. In other words, can the police invent something to stop you from crossing the road block? I am not talking specifically those around Dataran.

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 3:08 pm

    Way way beyond Dataran & vicinity, and talking generally, the police are empowered under the Police Act of 1967 wide ranging discretionary powers including power to erect road barriers on public roads and thoroughfares or in any public place to prevent any person or vehicles from passing through such barriers for what the police deems expedient and necessary the maintenance of public order or prevention of breach of it. No one can say they (police) haven’t such powers by law. To say that they have exercised their discretion arbitrarily and unlawfully, one has to procure a court order to establish it and break the barrier lawfully. One cannot do so just by saying that Lim Kam Put determines it to be so or is of the opinion it is so. So this argument that police has no right to erect barriers in Jln Raja (because only Dataran was out of bounds by court order) is unsupportable in law or logic . The police has discretionary right to erect barriers to demarcate a buffer zone. What more if buffer zone (Jln Raja) is part of the area under restraining order just like Dataran covered by the map accompanying court order (as reported). I am just stating what I believe is the case for benefit of all and the cause of the truth. Its not that I am saying this to defend police action and brutality. They also shot teargas at my direction and I had to see a sinseh for muscle sprain in my right thigh. What reason have I to defend them except to say what’s the truth (as I see it) of their powers in enforcing the law? I didn’t even say the law (Datran Court judgment) i a good or just law. I am just saying what it is. Why can’t you handle that?

  24. #24 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 3:17 pm

    In 1Malaysia, yes. They are King. They don’t need any reasons. You obey. ‘Ikut Arahan Polis’.

  25. #25 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 3:21 pm

    ///suppose you are stopped at the road block, there is nothing in you and the police also has nothing in them to find fault with you, can they still stop you from crossing the block///

    Of course they have the discretion (which one normally is not in position to question) by law (Police Act) to do so (which is elaborated in my preceding posting still under current moderation) Thats why & how KL city was locked down and empty of cars from 7 pm onwards on 28th April. I witnessed that first hand. I got through barrier at 7.15 am cos I convinced those manning the rock block/barriers that I had urgent & important matters involving life & death within the city (but unconnected with Bersih) to do so. They bought the story.

  26. #26 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 3:22 pm

    from 7 a.m. (not p.m) onwards

  27. #27 by limkamput on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 7:22 pm

    Oh I see, so simple huh, the police has absolute power to block any road and stop anyone. That being the case, why did the police go to the court to secure a court order? Why not just use its discretionary power? No one can question the order, and the police do not have to give a reason. Simple right? Anyway I am just arguing for the sake of argument, do you seriously think I do not know the police can do whatever they want? We don’t label ourselves police state for nothing. But the least we can do is to bash them a bit lah. Who care for legality anymore when there is no justice and fairness in the statute books.

  28. #28 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 7:55 pm

    ///Who care for legality anymore when there is no justice and fairness in the statute books.///

    It is not an issue of just justice and fairness in the statute books. It is the people – the enforcers and interpreters of the statute books, whether they exercise discretion in enforcement and interpretation in accordance to justice and fairness or otherwise bias in favour of those in power.

  29. #29 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 7:59 pm

    ///That being the case, why did the police go to the court to secure a court order?/// So that their prevention of people going into Dataran Merdeka would not be subject to subsequent argument/dispute and interpretation (for or against depending on which side that is asserting its position ) whether it is allowed or not allowed under the new Peaceful Assembly Act.

  30. #30 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 6 May 2012 - 8:23 pm

    ///I am just arguing for the sake of argument, do you seriously think I do not know the police can do whatever they want?///

    Don’t waste others time and trivialise discussions in this blog at this critical time considering whats happening in the country, by arguing for the sake of argument.

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