Bersih: Hanif panel biased, powerless
KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — Bersih dismissed today Putrajaya’s panel to probe the violence at the electoral reforms movement’s April 28 rally, saying the team led by former police chief Tun Hanif Omar would be biased and “nothing more than a glorified task force.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had pledged last week that “credible, experienced and respectable” individuals would investigate the events during Bersih’s third rally for free and fair elections, which descended into chaos after police clashed with protestors.
But Bersih pointed out in a press statement today “no indication has been given by the government as to what law will regulate the establishment and functioning of this panel.”
“If it is not to be constituted under any existing law relating to commissions of inquiry, the panel will have no power to summon witnesses, no power to insist that documents and information be produced, and no power to grant immunity to any person giving evidence to it,” it said.
The coalition of 84 civil societies added that panel chairman Hanif “has already made two public comments... that communist sympathisers who were active demonstrators in the 1970s were involved.
“He has also agreed with Najib’s allegation that Bersih 3.0 was an attempted coup d’état against the government. By so doing, he has shown that he is biased and has already pre-judged the outcome of the investigation,” Bersih said.
It also noted that another panel member would be Datuk Medan Abdullah, who is corporate affairs senior general manager for state oil company Petronas. Bersih asserted that, as an employee of a GLC, Medan would not be independent.
Najib’s choice of the former Inspector-General of Police to head the panel came under immediate fire from the opposition and calls are growing for Hanif, who led the police for two decades since 1974, to recuse himself.
Chaos reigned on the streets of Kuala Lumpur for over four hours after 3pm on April 28 when police fired tear gas and water cannons, and chased protesters down the streets to disperse what had initially been a peaceful protest calling for free and fair elections.
The Bar Council has said its observers found that police brutality at the rally was “magnified” compared to already chaotic scenes during a similar gathering for free and fair elections last July 9.
Police had begun firing the tear gas and water cannons after some demonstrators breached the barricade in front of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and rushed into Dataran Merdeka, which the courts had barred the public from entering that particular weekend. They fired as far as the DBKL premises, which are across Jalan Parlimen, and the move broke up the crowd who fled helter-skelter but police chased them down at Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut.
Bersih added today that Putrajaya should accept the offer from United Nations’ special rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and assembly to carry out independent investigations and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission to hold a public inquiry into the events of April 28.