Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Police Brutality and the Erosion of Democracy

At a forum over the weekend, I met Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and he told me about the Bersih event in Trengganu which was interrupted by the police. When he told me that someone was shot by the police and he needed to verify the incident, I was shocked and disgusted by the action taken by the police on our own Malaysians.

I have seen several political gatherings by Malaysians. None of them was violent and unruly. For example, the Puchong toll rate hike protest was calm and orderly until the policemen started arresting the participants, some of them helpless women. This is a democratic country and in a democratic country, dissents must be accepted and tolerated by the ruling government and the law enforcers.

When I was in Amsterdam on a personal visit in 2004, I witnessed a peaceful protest held by muslims in the city. The policemen were there to help clear the streets so that the protesters can walk through at ease.

In Trengganu and most places in Malaysia, police heavy handed approach towards the protesters is uncalled for and illegal. Opposition parties PAS and PKR are claiming that the police used unprecedented violence - including firing live bullets - to disperse a ceramah in Pantai Batu Buruk, Terengganu.

Terengganu police chief Ayub Yaakob, in a specially arranged press conference this afternoon, confirmed that one live bullet was fired by one of his officers.

Ayub said the officer, who is from the Federal Reserve Unit, was set upon by a group of men in the vicinity of the ceramah. However, several eyewitnesses told malaysiakini that more than one shot was fired at the crowd last night.

It is a serious offence to open fire on the public. The police should not resort to violence unnecessarily. Their duty there is not to hurt but to protect. Suhakam must conduct a thorough probe on this incident.

The call for the implementation of the IPCMC looks unavoidable.

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