Hanif, it’s time to wrap up — Stephen Ng
JUNE 5 — In his pitch for public acceptance, former Inspector-General of Police Hanif Omar has again failed to understand what every man on the street with a slightly higher IQ seems to understand why both the Bersih 2.0 steering committee and the Bar Council have unanimously rejected the government’s offer to probe the peaceful rally which took place on April 28.
As a matter of fact, a wider scope in the terms and reference does not necessarily translate itself to be better than one that is more focused on the core issues, which Suhakam has already adopted.
Haniff, therefore, has no reasons to brag about the 10 terms of reference that he has been given, when in the first place the panel set up by the Home Ministry lacks public confidence, and has no legal clout compared to Suhakam.
Instead, Hanif should by now recluse himself after making a statement which is deemed as truly uncalled for. The damage is already done. The bruises are deep, and it will take a long time to heal before the people will forgive him for a label that effectively turned some 250,000 people into coup d’etat traitors with communist inclinations. There is nothing more obnoxious and stupid than a statement of this nature made by former top cops!
For the sake of sanity, I strongly urge Hanif and the panel to resign en bloc, and allow Suhakam to carry out the independent investigation, instead of continuing to make a fool of themselves now that Hanif knows the stance of both the Bersih 2.0 steering committee and the Bar Council. Given that the deep injury inflicted on the rakyat on April 28, I see it has also created a chasm between Najib’s administration and the ordinary man on the street.
Umno to blame itself
In the past, no one cared a damn about the number of people at any Umno or BN party function; now, photographs are posted all over on the Internet of Umno’s 66th anniversary celebration recently, which clearly show to me that even the Malays are abandoning Najib and his tok dalang, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It is estimated that there were not more than 50,000 people who attended the assembly, which caused the frantic Mahathir to stress that Umno members should not sabotage the party in the coming general election.
On the ground, I have also heard grouses from even my Malay friends that they, too, are disillusioned by the aggressive behaviour of party members against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in what is known as “Tibai” and against Bersih’s co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan. What some of them also cannot understand is how a trader driving a Lamborghini is still holding a Kuala Lumpur City Hall hawker’s licence in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, and his business has flopped even before Bersih 3.0 (with a number of Sekinchan Ikan Bakar franchisees already closed before April 28).
What some of my Malay friends are most sceptical is the fact that the mainstream media has become a tool for political propaganda, without taking into consideration the sensitivities of the Malay culture. “What kind of morals are they teaching to our younger generation?” one of them asked, when we were both watching TV3 news during one of the by-elections.
No one, including Umno members, is happy with the gutter politics played by Umno and NGOs which are linked to Umno and BN. With Najib as prime minister keeping his silence and condoning such political culture, it is simply not helping to solve the rift between Najib and the people of Malaysia.
Based on the latest survey by Merdeka Center, I sense that the people have already lost their confidence in Najib. The Scorpene deal, which has also recently emerged, and the French lawyer not being allowed to move freely within the country, clearly speaks volume. The rest is up to the individuals to interpret, since Najib has chosen to make no comment about the Scorpene deal. I suspect a lot of people are waiting for the warrant of arrest to be issued by the French judge through the Interpol.
I spoke to some 30 people during Bersih 3.0 as part of my monitoring exercise asking each of them to state why he or she supported Bersih. What is clear to me is that the rakyat want a clean and fair election, but Najib has chosen to listen to the old guards (which I can safely presume includes Dr Mahathir and three former IGPs).
On April 28, Najib took the stance not only to arrest, but to inflict injury to the protestors with the objective to demonise Bersih 3.0, before it gets much bigger. This, including a target of 500 arrests, appears to be the standing instruction, if you care to analyse the event carefully and the police had to work beyond 7pm to arrest anyone wearing Bersih T-shirts including those who were having their dinner in restaurants. The government’s response to Bersih 3.0 was more than just ordinary crowd control.
The use of sophisticated telecommunications jammers during Bersih 3.0 appears to suggest to me that April 28 was the day when the Malaysian government went to war with the people. In a simple crowd control situation, you would not need to jam the communication lines between the ordinary people on the street, unless you had first assumed that Bersih 3.0 was a coup d’etat.
To say that police brutality was merely a few isolated cases is as good as saying that the kettle is not black. In fact, the men in blue were out there to lash out their anger on the ordinary rakyat. They were out there not only to arrest the demonstrators, but to inflict as much injury as possible. After arresting the demonstrators, they kicked and punched the victims.
They were also out there thinking that they were the disciplinary masters, punishing the people and making them come to their senses. There were a lot of prejudices that had been instilled into the minds of these boys in blue, for which their superiors have to take full responsibility.
Hanif shoots himself in the foot
Till now, the police have not come forward to punish their own men; therefore, the former IGP is only shooting himself in the foot by trying to appear independent in the setting up of the panel of inquiry.
Unlike his successor, Rahim Noor, who has been found guilty of inflicting injury to former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Haniff should behave honourably as a former top cop and perhaps confine himself to just one term of reference: probing police brutality in a bid to clean up the force.
If it is true that the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) will not allow the police to appeal, then Hanif should allow them to appeal against any punishment meted by blaming it on the instructions given by their superiors.
While Hanif is doing his good job on this, let Bersih 2.0 steering committee continue to push for electoral reform and clean up the electoral roll which is fraught with discrepancies. Only with that can he restore public confidence in the police force and salvage his own reputation as a former top cop.
* Stephen Ng reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.