DAPSY had extended an invitation to Suhakam to be present
at the Bentong wet market on Sunday at 8.30 a.m. to monitor the DAP’s “No to
911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign to monitor police
abuses of power and violations of human rights by criminalizing legitimate
constitutional political activities.
Malaysian NGOs concerned about human rights are also
invited to Bentong on Sunday, as the vital issue at stake is no more just about the
“No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” campaign, but the human rights of
Malaysians to legitimate constitutional political activities and the respect of
the Malaysian police to human rights and Suhakam,
the body established by Parliament
to protect and promote human rights.
The Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, should give
serious consideration to the DAPSY invitation to send a commissioner to Bentong
to monitor police abuses of power and
violation of human rights by criminalizing
legitimate constitutional political activities, as the Suhakam had issued two
public reports concerning police and human rights, one on the “Freedom of
Assembly” and the other on its inquiry into the Kesas Highway Incident of
November 2000, both released in August last year – and the failure of Suhakam
to send a Commissioner to Bentong will tantamount to abandoning the precedents
it had set to keep a vigilant eye
on police violations of human rights.
Suhakam report states that the “omnipresence of the police, FRU, water cannons
and the use of dogs at assemblies tend to create a hostile environment”.
Such excessive show of force, when it is completely
unwarranted as happened in Bentong last Sunday when DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong
Po Kuan and 12 other DAP leaders and activists were wrongfully arrested for the
“No to 929” campaign, raises the question whether the Police have lost sight
of their primary duties and obligations to the citizens to create a crime-free
environment by playing to the gallery of certain state or local political
In the past few days, there had been high-profile reports
of former VIPs who were victims of a rash of
house-breaking and armed robbery. The
country’s first woman Cabinet Minister, Tan Sri Fatimah Hashim, was robbed by
two armed men who walked into her home in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur yesterday
morning. On Wednesday, former Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Rahman Yaakub was
injured when he tried to fight off one of the seven robbers who broke into his
house in Ampang in Kuala Lumpur. Two weeks earlier, former Selangor executive councilor Datuk
Saidin Tamby lost more than RM500,000 in cash and valuables to five robbers in
his house in Selayang.
The Police countrywide should have a proper order of
priorities about their duties – and protecting Malaysian citizens from
criminals and maintaining law and
order must always be accorded the highest priority.
The police must not be involved in political escapades, as harassing
Opposition in the discharge of peaceful and legitimate political activities,
just to please certain political masters whether at state or local level.
As far as the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign is concerned, the police should be giving their fullest co-operation as it is not a seditious or subversive campaign, being wholly committed to defend and uphold, through democratic and constitutional means, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic State – a position publicly endorsed by the three first Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn as well as the highest court of the land.