Media statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 14th July 2011:
Suhakam public inquiry into police brutality most laudable
The decision of Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to hold a public inquiry into police excessive use of force, violence and brutality during last Saturday’s Bersih 2.0 rally is most timely and laudable.
In fact, if the Malaysian police subscribes to the principles of democratic policing to protect the rights and interests of the citizens and not the outmoded colonial mentality of regime policing, not a single tear gas canister or water cannon needed to be fired during the peaceful 709 Bersih 2.0 rally.
The tens of thousands of Malaysians from all races, religions, regions, age and gender who braved police threats, arrests, teargas and water cannons to gather in Kuala Lumpur on 709 to support Bersih 2.0’s legitimate calls for free and fair elections distinguished themselves by being peaceful, orderly and disciplined – going out of their way to avoid or respond to police provocations and to protect private and public property as there was no vandalism of any kind.
At no time did the 709 crowds at any point in Kuala Lumpur posed a threat to public security as to justify the firing of any tear gas canister or water cannon – if the top priority of the police was to keep the public peace!
If there was any violence or brutality, they all came from the police side among the small percentage of indisciplined police personnel.
The tens of thousands of Malaysians would have been most amenable to police advice on crowd and traffic control if the police were minded to seek their co-operation, and not to wantonly, unjustifiably and blindly open fire with tear gas and canisters without notice, utterly heedless of the consequences of their actions.
As a result, the police must bear full responsibility for the 709 disorders – including the unnecessary death of Baharuddin Ahmad; the criminal police landrover ramming of PAS Deputy President Mat Sabu on motor-bike; and the wanton and reckless firing of tear gas and water cannons into Tung Shin Hospital and directly at Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat leaders at KL Sentral tunnel.
It is most unconscionable that the family of Baharuddin is still denied the full post-mortem results and closure as her doctor-daughter Dr. Mirza has been told that they may have to wait for as long as five weeks!
Should Baharuddin, the 58-year-old taxi driver, have died last Saturday if not for police excesses?
A private cardiologist in Kuala Lumpur who took part in the 709 rally does not think so. He has offered himself as an expert witness. This is his email:
“Please tell the family, to pursue.
“If you need me as an expert witness, you can count on my support.
“Even without the video, this man died in Police custody ( he was handcuffed under Police care ). He asked for medication and was denied. He died. He may have a pre-existing condition, but he died under Police custody.
“I am sure that the post-mortem showed this. That is why it is held up. Otherwise, the pathologist in charge would have written, or recorded his/her opinion by now.
“There is only one organ to inspect, and the signs looking at the heart and heart arteries are obvious. It is not exactly rocket science.
“They are asking for second and third opinion, to see how to word it. I hope that my medical colleagues would stand firm.”
This cardiologist said it would be reasonable to have a post-mortem report ready in a few days but “a few weeks or months would not be reasonable”.
He concluded: “His death is regrettable. The timing was unfortunate. He had a good chance of survival, if proper medical attention was given. An opinion from his attending physician or cardiologist would be helpful.”
The question must be posed to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak whether the Baharuddin case illustrates what he meant by his slogan of “People First, Performance Now”?
Or could anyone expect the Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai to intervene to ensure that the bereaved family is given the full post-mortem report in a matter of days rather than weeks – after his shameful attempt despite crowd of eye-witnesses and mountain of video evidence to deny police firing tear gas and water cannon into Tung Shih Maternity Hospital during the rally?
Let the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar, the Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and all those holding high government office appear before the Suhakam 709 public inquiry to justify their actions, whether before, during or after, which violate the human rights of Malaysians.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor