IGP says will investigate alleged police brutality
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Tan Sri Ismail Omar refused today to comment directly on various allegations of police brutality, but repeatedly insisted his force would investigate all claims “openly and be fair to all.”
He told a press conference the police had shown “full restraint for over four hours” until protestors breached the barricade blocking them from Dataran Merdeka, which the court had barred the public from entering across the weekend.
“You are creating the idea I’m a guilty person. You’re not being fair to me. What is important is we will investigate openly and be fair to all,” he said when asked why police had chased demonstrators down several streets after firing tear gas and water cannons at them.
He also refused to say how many tear gas canisters were fired at demonstrators but asked reporters to imagine “if no tear gas or water cannon was used, what would happen?”
“If no action was taken to disperse, an open battle could have happened and created a more dangerous situation for both sides,” he said.
On Saturday, a pocket of 1,000 demonstrators had engaged in open battle with riot police near Masjid Jamek after 6pm, despite most of the crowd dispersing earlier.
A police officer was seen dragging a man across the road, which resulted in Bersih supporters attacking the police with broken bottles, mineral water bottles and broken concrete slabs.
A convoy of police vehicles ferrying Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail in one of its cars was forced to make a U-turn near Masjid Jamek when met with a hostile reception from protestors who threw shoes and broken concrete slabs at them, smashing the windows of two cars.
This occurred after police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators, following a breach of the barricade in front of DBKL and rushed into Dataran Merdeka.
Saturday’s rally was electoral reform watchdog Bersih’s third in just over four years.
Police 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.
Angry protestors later attacked a police car, which then crashed into at least two people while trying to flee.
After an ambulance took away the injured policemen, the protestors flipped the car over on its side but then fled after tear gas was fired.
Police also arrested over 500 protestors, about a third of those detained in a similar rally on July 9 last year where a clampdown by the government saw Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration being widely condemned by the international press.
Today, Ismail also accused Bersih today of not keeping its word to hold a peaceful rally on Saturday but “a street demonstration that turned into a riot.”
“The rule was not to engage. We just facilitated and observed,” the police chief said.
He also screened a seven-minute video to reporters showing how protestors broke through the barriers at Dataran Merdeka and also attacked the police patrol car, causing it to crash, before flipping it on its side.