(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Malaysia
has the dubious distinction of getting into the world-wide round-up of May Day
celebrations yesterday by international news agencies including CNN - thanks to
the unwarranted high-handed police arrests and brutality against workers and
citizens getting together peacefully to celebrate Workers’ Day at the Kuala
Lumpur City Centre.
John Paul, in his May Day Message, said that “through work, man becomes more
human. But for hard work to allow man to become more human it must always exist
within a social framework”.
is a blot on Malaysia’s human rights record that workers were not allowed to
celebrate their humanity on May Day peacefully, without being treated as if they
are criminals and the most dangerous elements in the country.
Suhakam report on the freedom of assembly released in August last year had
recommended that the police and organisers “build rapport” when an assembly
is taking place, and if this advice had been taken, the police arrests and
assaults would not have taken place.
high-handed police handling of the peaceful May Day gathering in Kuala Lumpur
yesterday, resulting in 17 arrests and police assaults and manhandling of
workers and citizens coming together to peacefully celebrate Workers’ Day,
should be the first report to be lodged with the second Suhakam appointed last
week as it will be an acid test whether the new Suhakam is distancing or even
dissociating itself from the previous Suhakam reports on the Kesas Highway
Incident and “freedom of assembly”.
these two Suhakam reports had called on the police to review its crowd control
and dispersal techniques and to act with restraint and not to resort to
excessive or unreasonable force.
its Kesas Highway inquiry report, Suhakam found widespread police abuses and
violations of human rights, such as unnecessary use of excessive force, whether
in stopping persons from attempting to get away from the scene, waiting
for the traffic jam to clear or while under police custody.
the high-handed police action at the peaceful May Day gathering yesterday a sign
that the police is sending a loud and clear signal, encouraged by the September
11 Attacks which have created a very hostile environment for human rights, that
it rejects the two Suhakam reports
and signals an even more hardline police attitude to peaceful assemblies?
more important, is the second-term Suhakam under the new Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman,
distancing or even dissociating itself from these two previous Suhakam reports
to protect and promote the fundamental “right to assembly peacefully and
is why the high-handed police handling of the peaceful May Day gathering should
be the first report to be lodged with the second Suhakam, as it will be an acid test whether the new Suhakam
is distancing or even dissociating itself from
the previous Suhakam reports on the Kesas Highway Incident and freedom of