Instead of brickbats, police praised for restraint at rally
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — In the aftermath of the “KL112” rally, it is the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) that has come under the spotlight, earning endless praise from the public and key leaders from both the opposition and Barisan Nasional (BN) for exercising restraint during the event.
Beginning yesterday, PDRM’s social network pages were inundated with messages of gratitude from people thanking the force for carrying out their duties well despite the massive 45,000 turnout at Stadium Merdeka for the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally.
Twitter user Mohd Aidil Mansor even labelled PDRM as “the best police force in the world”, adding to the many other thank you notes from others.
The response was a far cry from the scorn and biting criticism that PDRM received after the violent clashes that plagued previous rallies in the capital.
“Thank you for all your tweets. PDRM appreciates your views, opinions and appreciation,” said the official PDRM Twitter account today.
MPs across the political divide also expressed their gratitude over the handling of the event, with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein giving full credit to Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Ismail Omar and his team.
“So many people are appreciating the role of PDRM in tackling the rally yesterday. Kudos and congratulations to all the police force!” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tweeted today.
“Previously, after every rally, the police will (only) be tired, hungry and thirsty like us. Now they also smile like us,” PAS’ MP for Shah Alam Khalid Samad tweeted.
“How peculiar! Different! And nice to note!,” PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar tweeted, referring to a news that there was no arrests made at the rally.
Former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who has of late been very vocal of Ismail and the current crop of police officers, also congratulated the force yesterday.
“Congratulations and good job for keeping the peace. You are all heroes today,” Musa said through Twitter.
The police force, especially the Dang Wangi police station, had implemented a number of initiatives for the first time yesterday, in order to assist the participants and the media covering the event.
A media centre was set up in the police station, and 80 officers designated “media marshals” were provided to escort the press around the rally venue.
“All this while I’ve been in service, this was the first time I’ve ever held three press conferences in a day,” Dang Wangi district police chief Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad joked after the rally yesterday.
The officers in blue could be seen patrolling Stadium Merdeka along the rally, and the crowd expressed their appreciation for the force by openly cheering and taking photos with them.
“Abang polis, kawan kita. Kita aman, jangan pukul (Police officers, are our friends. We’re peaceful, please don’t beat us),” chanted Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) leader Badrul Hisham Shaharin as he led a march of young activists.
On the contrast, it was the organisers and participants who have broken the laws provided under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
ACP Zainuddin announced yesterday that the police have opened investigations against rally organisers for violating three conditions during the event, including allowing children to participate, using banners that incite hostility and for exceeding the earlier estimated 30,000 crowd target.
“The police will run an investigation,” ACP Zainuddin said, warning that the offenders will be charged under the Act. A participant who brings a child to an assembly can be fined up to RM20,000.
Tens of thousands of Malaysians had yesterday converged on the city centre to demand their rights from what they have described as an unfair government.
Organisers called the event the “People’s Uprising rally”, to mark the coming together of both political leaders from the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and non-partisan members of civil society to campaign on a number of issues ahead of the coming 13th general election.
PR has put the crowd size at a whopping 500,000, half its targeted one million, but the police said yesterday that some 45,000 attended the event.
The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today that a peaceful assembly is possible when the authorities agree to facilitate such events instead of clamping down on them.
Commission chief Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said in a statement that he hoped the positive outcome will continue to enhance the understanding among all parties on their role in ensuring peaceful conduct during such events.
Previous gatherings organised by polls watchdog group Bersih 2.0 had resulted in pitch battles on the streets between the police and protesters amid a shower of tear gas canisters and chemical-laced water.