Excessive use of police force
with firing of tear gas and water cannons against Hindraf gathering to
present memorandum to British High Commission most high-handed, ham-fisted,
undemocratic and a grave disservice not only to the Malaysian Indian
community but to Malaysia’s international reputation in wanting to be
first-world developed nation
by Lim Kit Siang
The excessive use of police
force with the firing of tear gas and water cannons against the Hindraf
gathering in Kuala Lumpur this morning to present a memorandum to the
British High Commission is most high-handed, ham-fisted, undemocratic and
a grave disservice not only to the Malaysian Indian community but to
Malaysia’s international reputation in wanting to be a first-world
If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had “walked the
talk” of creating a Malaysia with “First World Infrastructure, First World
Mentality”, today’s disgraceful display of excessive police force would
not have happened.
Peaceful demonstrations and marches are common and accepted occurrences in
First World developed nations which Malaysia aspires to become. As has
been rightly pointed out recently, in Britain, Australia and other modern
countries, when people wish to demonstrate, the police typically clear the
way and make sure no one gets hurt. The streets belong to the people. And
the police, like the politicians, are their servants. It is not the other
way around as in Malaysia where the first reflex of the police and the
government to any peaceful demonstration is to impose a ban and to fire
tear gas and water cannons to deny Malaysians the fundamental right to a
voice in national affairs.
During the world-wide anti-Iraq war demonstrations in late 2002, the
Malaysian government had applauded mammoth peaceful demonstrations in the
Western capitals, whether in London, Paris, Rome or Washington where
crowds ranging from hundreds of thousands and even millions came out to
peacefully voice their anti-war aspirations.
If the Police had issued a permit to Hindraf for their gathering to submit
a memorandum to the British High Commission this morning, the whole
incident would have ended in a peaceful, orderly and swift manner, which
will not only be a credit to the police but to the nation’s international
reputation as well.
This is a case where the Police have failed to make the important
distinction between their roles from that of their political masters in
the Barisan Nasional.
The Barisan Nasional parties and leaders feel threatened by the Hindraf
initiative, for it is a reflection of their failures in the past 50 years
to accord justice, fair play and equality to the Malaysian Indians who
have become the new underclass in the country as a result of relentless
marginalization of their citizenship rights.
The Barisan Nasional parties and leaders have reason to feel threatened,
but not the police, for the Hindraf peaceful gathering to the British High
Commission was not a challenge to the Police and never posed a threat to
peace and security.
The Police must demonstrate a “First World Mentality” of respecting
peaceful marches and demonstrations as a norm for citizens of a would-be
first-world nation to exercise their fundamental democratic rights.
They should be mindful of the Rukunegara objective to maintain a
democratic way of life in Malaysia and abandon the “Third-World Mentality”
of suppressing peaceful expression of legitimate opinion by the citizenry
with tear gas, water cannons and excessive police force and instead
transform themselves into allies for democracy by respecting the
fundamental rights of Malaysians to peaceful marches and demonstrations
while safeguarding law, order and security.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman