(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Suhakam should conduct an independent and impartial investigation whether police had been too trigger-happy in firing tear gas and water cannons at the peaceful assemblies at Shah Alam yesterday.
Every case on firing tear gas and the chemically-laced water cannon should be investigated and witnesses invited to ascertain whether it is justified to forestall a breakdown of public order or sheer over-reaction by the police.
I have no doubt that every instance of firing of tear gas and water cannon yesterday was an over-reaction completely unjustified by the circumstances, in utter disregard of the peaceful nature of the assembly and the women and children who were present. This makes a total mockery of the Barisan Nasional government’s claim of wanting to create a caring society, for no government can claim to want a caring society if it has a police force which is trigger-happy, including the firing of tear gas and water cannons.
The police’s trigger-happy and callous attitude in indiscriminately firing tear gas and water cannons yesterday was best highlighted when without warning, and after the gathering had agreed to disperse peacefully, the police fired tear gas at the Barisan Alternative leaders.
I regret and deplore the assault on Insp. Azmi Yahaya at Kota Kemuning toll plaza yesterday, which cannot be justified by the series of provocative, uncaring and even callous actions of the police earlier in the day against men, women and children who had assembled peacefully to demand restoration of their democratic rights.
The message in yesterday’s gathering is that tens of thousands of Malaysians can gather peacefully to demand the restoration of their democratic rights without any untoward incidents, and it is the authorities who pose the greatest threat and create the greatest risk in their over-reaction and even unjustified aggressive actions like vandalism in smashing the windows, head and backlights of cars with reformasi stickers.
Police actions yesterday, in arresting 116 people and continuing to adopt a "tear-gas and water-cannon" approach to peaceful assemblies, is not only an infringement of the fundamental rights of Malaysians to peaceful assembly as entrenched in Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution but also a violation of the Rukunegara commitment to a democratic way of life in Malaysia.
The police should immediately release all the 116 people arrested yesterday and enter into a dialogue with the Opposition and NGOs to ensure: