(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should explain whether the high-handed and trigger-happy police actions against several peaceful opposition gatherings represent a new policy on police repression and brutality.
Recently, the police have suddenly become very trigger-happy in firing tear gas and chemically-laced water into peaceful gatherings and initiating arrests, such as the incidents in Sabak Bernam, Kubang Pasu, the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur, the Kulim court house and the "Save Damansara school" Pudu-Damansara walkathon.
As the Minister in charge of the police, Abdullah must take full responsibility for the new spate of police repression and brutality, and the country is entitled to know whether the police is acting under a new directive which disregards the traditional restraints based on the concept of minimum force and reasonableness which the police had to comply when dealing with law and order situations, and if so, who is responsible for issuing such a new draconian directive.
Trigger-happy police firing of tear gas and acid water into peaceful crowds which have no intention nor is there any indication of turning unruly or violent are clear violations of the concepts of minimum force and reasonableness which must be observed by any responsible police force.
When Abdullah said that street demonstrations staged by the opposition
parties to express their protest on certain issues lately are "not good
democratic practices" and "not the way to resolve problems",
he did not sound sincere as he did not say the same things when UMNO
and UMNO Youth staged unruly and provocative demonstrations, like the one
at the Selangor
Chinese Assembly Hall last August threatening to "burn down" the building unless the 83-point Suqiu electoral appeals were withdrawn!
Only yesterday, UMNO Youth staged a protest outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to condemn the US and British bombing of areas around Baghdad last Friday.
Is such a UMNO Youth demonstration "good democratic practice" and the way to resolve problems but demonstrations against corruption, cronyism, abuses of power "bad democratic practices" and "not the way to resolve problems"?
The Barisan Alternative Leadership Council at its meeting yesterday unreservedly condemned the high-handed police actions in the recent incidents marred by the police trigger-happy firing of tear gas and acid water at peaceful crowds and has asked for an urgent meeting with the Home Minister.
Is Abdullah prepared and ready to meet with the Barisan Alternative leaders on why the police have deviated from past concepts and guidelines on minimum force and reasonableness when dealing with crowd situations?
The recent spate of high-handed police actions against opposition gatherings had not only raised the question as to whether it represent a new policy on police repression and brutality, but refocussed attention on a purported speech by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, to top police officers last December after the Lunas by-election which had been posted on the Internet since last month.
In the purported speech, Norian Mai was alleged to have admitted that the police had for the first time failed the Prime Minister in the Lunas by-election, given the Prime Minister an undertaking that the police would ensure that Barisan Nasional candidates would not be defeated in future and expressed the resolve that the police would not fail in obstructing the rise of the opposition.
I find it most astonishing that the police has not made any statement on the purported speech by Norian Mai posted on the Internet, to deny it if it is untrue or to explain and justify it if true, as it is impossible that the police is unaware of its existence on the Internet. Norian Mai cannot ignore the Internet posting of his purported speech any longer and public interests demand a proper clarification from him.