Human Rights NGOs invited to Bentong wet market on Sunday to monitor police abuses of power and criminalizing of legitimate constitutional political activities

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday):  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. 

The  2001 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 masters. 

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.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman