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Monday, April 30, 2012

NUJ: Media harassed to black out police misconduct?

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) today said the alleged heavy-handedness of police on media personnel during the Bersih 3.0 rally raises questions on the police’s claimed restraint and professional conduct.

NONEAs such general-secretary V Anbalagan (right) called on inspector-general of police Ismail Omar to explain why journalists were apparently targetted during yesterday’s rally.

“Media workers could be identified by their press tags...(so) why were they targeted yesterday? Is it to confiscate photos or footage which would have put (the police) in a very bad light?” he asked.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, he added that media personnel were carrying out their duties to “provide news coverage of an event which was closely followed by the public yesterday”.

NUJ also urged all media personnel who were roughed up, either by police or the public, and had their property harmed or seized, to lodge police reports.

Meanwhile, PKR has slammed the prime minister for “unprecedented” attacks and arrests of journalists covering the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday.

“ It is clear that the press were systematically and deliberately targeted by the police force.

NONE“Such coordinated and sustained attacks could not have been carried out without orders from the police leadership and the Home Ministry,” said PKR vice-president N Surendran (left) in a statement today.

“Prime Minister Najib and his government must take full responsibility for the criminal acts against the press.
“Among those arrested were a photojournalists from Malaysiakini, Guang Ming newspaper and a Malay Mail journalist.

“Among others assaulted or had their cameras damaged or memory cards confiscated were journalists from Nanyang, Channel News Asia, Al Jazeera, Makkal Osai and Merdeka Review,” he added.

The human rights lawyer alleged that the attacks on the media were to “prevent journalists from recording police aggression, violence and assaults upon the public”.

“This explains why press photographers and photojournalists were mainly targeted.”

Yesterday Malaysiakini journalist Koh Jun Lin was arrested along with several other members of the press while covering the rally at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.
Koh reports he was punched by the police, and his memory card containg photographs of the rally were confiscated, while another photographer said police destroyed his memory card after he refused to delete photographs of a melee.

Do you have photographs or video clips depicting police brutality during Bersih 3.0? Let us help you share them with Malaysiakini readers. Contact us here:

Protesters overturn police car after being hit

Bersih 3.0: Peserta dibelasah

Najib whispers apology to Sun reporter

Bersih denies losing control

Turkish Parliament No Longer Headscarf-Free

Turkey, to our day, likes to be described as the refuge of Muslim laicism. The fact that this is becoming more and more a thing of the past since Erdogan’s “march through the institutions” is intentionally ignored by mainstream politicians just as much as the Sharia Revolution in North Africa about which one would like to cheer us up as being “winds of freedom.”

As read on, the tabu Islam head covering is now sprouting up in the Turkish parliament, where it could be seen last Monday at the traditional reception for the anniversary of the opening of the first post-Ottoman parliament in 1920. The wives of the minister presidents and parliament presidents especially showed themselves off with this new order of clothing. As Erdogan strikingly stated on this occasion, the times have truly changed in Turkey since 2002 when the islamic AKP party was able to seize power.

It will be interesting to see what pops into the minds of the neo-Ottoman Mohammedan zealots at the Bosporus so that they don’t fall too far behind their fellow North African believers.

Posted by PI / Translation: Anders Denken

Hundreds-strong Muslim Mob Attacks Home of PxC Leader

Josep Anglada, leader of the PxC party which leads the fight against the islamisation of Catalonia and Spain, has been been besieged in his home by a hundreds-strong mob, said to consist mainly of North Africans.

For two successive days, far left organisations had organised an anti-PxC demonstration in front of the town hall in Vic, Anglada's home city. On the second day, the mob of demonstrators, said to number around three hundred and to consist mainly of North Africans, marched to Anglada's home. There they chanted insults to both he and his wife and made threats against him, including death threats. Anglada's car was attacked and its windows smashed. Other cars and containers in the vicinity was also attacked and damaged. Traffic was cut off for about half an hour.

A full report was made to the police but so far no arrests have been made. Anglada has appealed for those who care about democratic values to take a strong stand against politically-motivated violence, but the Catalan establishment seems uninterested. The media has barely reported the incident. No politicians of other parties have expressed any solidarity with Anglada and one Communist deputy even seemed to take pleasure in the incident, posting on his Twitter account that it was "the price of being a fascist".

Several PxC officials have been accosted recently, sometimes physically, by leftists or Muslims. Josep Anglada has complained that there are far-left websites whose sole function is to foment hatred against his party and to track party events and the movements of its officials, the better to facilitate physical attacks on them.

The British far-left movement, Unite Against Fascism, recently set up an affiliate in Catalonia, Unitat Contra El Feixisme, to attempt to counter the success of the anti-immigration, anti-Islam PxC.

Bersih rally shows angry and divided nation, says Umno deputy minister

A protester shouts during a confrontation with police near Dataran Merdeka, in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — An Umno deputy minister broke ranks with his colleagues today, saying the violent and chaotic scenes at yesterday’s Bersih rally pointed to an angry and divided nation that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) must take special care in addressing.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told The Malaysian Insider the crowd that flooded the streets of the capital to call for free and fair elections was larger and more multiracial than last July 9’s Bersih rally.

“There were elements of defiance and anger from the crowd and police who acted strangely towards journalists. BN must be very careful in addressing this,” the deputy higher education minister said ahead of an Umno supreme council meeting tonight.

BN-linked media and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin have swiftly blamed Bersih and opposition leaders for the violence that followed after some demonstrators defied orders from police and organisers not to breach the barriers surrounding Dataran Merdeka.

Saifuddin said he would raise the handling of yesterday’s planned sit-in at the historic square during tonight’s party leadership meeting.

“Last year, members of the public were not angry, they just wanted fair polls. This time they’re angry. But yet surveys show BN’s support has gone up. This just tells me the country is getting more and more divided.

“If not for the police car incident, Bersih 3.0 would be a bigger issue for BN,” he said.

Tens of thousands demonstrators were dispersed by police with water cannon and tear gas after some rally-goers pushed through the barricade in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and tried to rush into Dataran Merdeka.

Some of the 15,000-strong group sandwiched between police and DBKL broke down the barriers and moved towards the historic square, prompting police to fire chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali had tried to negotiate with police, who told the Gombak MP to calm the group down. But despite his advice, they still broke through the barricades.

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.

Despite most of the crowd dispersing, a pocket of 1,000 demonstrators then engaged in open battle with riot police near Masjid Jamek.

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.

Better for Jeffrey to ignore Anwar

Anwar, for all his initial big talk about reformasi, flogs an antiquated and anachronistic brand of politics in Malaysian Borneo.

It’s high time that State Reform Party (STAR) chief and Borneo strongman, Jeffrey Kitingan, addressed the two other big political problems – besides Umno – in Sabah and Sarawak: Anwar Ibrahim and his Peninsular Malaysia-based PKR.

It’s not the done thing to focus exclusively on Umno in Sabah during the Borneo Tea Parties and ignore the one who was among the key persons who planted this party in the state to facilitate its internal colonisation policies.

There is a long litany of complaints against Anwar in Sabah and Sarawak – from being anti-Christian, anti-Dusun/Dayak and anti-native to placing illegal immigrants on the electoral rolls – but he’s best remembered for shamelessly squatting on the Dusuns and Jeffrey during the latter’s stint until Jan 2 last year as vice-president in PKR.

In Peninsular Malaysia, Sabahans and Sarawakians have long noted, Anwar has virtually declared “Indian” as another dirty word which must not be mentioned by even the Indian legislators in PKR. Apparently, it’s okay, however, in Anwar’s dictionary, to mention the Chinese besides the Malays. Others are so much cannon fodder.

PKR Indians, with an eye on the forthcoming 13th general election, have now been allowed to temporarily mention “Indian” as they engage in an on-going sandiwara with the MIC on the problem of statelessness.

Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and Human Rights Party (HRP) leaders were routinely described by Anwar as racists whenever they raised this and other Indian issues. At least, to its credit, Umno and Barisan Nasional have yet to be so dismissive of these two organisations. Both Umno and BN belatedly appear willing of late to discuss Indian issues as national issues.

Anwar, for all his initial big talk about reformasi which we no longer hear about, flogs an antiquated and anachronistic brand of politics in Malaysian Borneo: that it’s not possible to even mention Dusun – including Kadazan or urban Dusun – much less Murut and Dayak, on the grounds that “the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia will get angry”.

Why the Malays in a faraway land – Peninsular Malaysia might as well as be on the moon as far as Sabah and Sarawak are concerned – should be against the Dusuns and Dayaks ruling their own land has never been explained. It seems to be yet another sensitive issue among the ruling elite and wannabes.

PKR leaders are fond of pointing to Baru Bian, a Christian Dayak who heads the Sarawak chapter of the party, as proof enough of Anwar not being a racist or being against the non-Muslim natives in Malaysian Borneo.

Different version

Anwar himself had grudgingly agreed to Bian’s appointment “to compensate – it seems temporarily – for a Muslim of Suluk Filipino origin heading PKR in Sabah” and thereby belatedly “placate”, in some strange fashion, the Dusuns in Sabah.

It’s indeed difficult to fathom this kind of thinking – giving a free rein to the illegal immigrants in Sabah PKR – and covering it up with Bian’s appointment to mislead the Dusuns. Anwar, like the Dusuns and Dayaks, knows that Bian has “no hope in hell” of even sniffing the chair of the chief minister of Sarawak.

Furthermore, Anwar continues to knock Bian’s appointment by saying that “it’s up to the Malays – presumably he means in Peninsular Malaysia – to decide whether they want to support his appointment as the chief minister of Sarawak”.

Anwar even rubbed Bian’s nose in the dirt on this score during the Sarawak state election on April 16 last year when campaigning in Muslim areas including Dayak Muslim. In non-Muslim Dayak areas, he preached a different version, and pointed to Bian as proof enough that he was not a racist as alleged – according to Anwar – by Jeffrey’s people.

Jeffrey continues to be a victim of such Anwarian politics.

The latest manifestation was Anwar brazenly turning up in Kota Kinabalu in recent days, completely ignoring Jeffrey, and clinching a seat-sharing pact with the Chinese-led Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), a mosquito party rejected by even the Chinese.

This pact was ostensibly between Pakatan Rakyat and SAPP but has since openly come under fire from the anti-SAPP DAP in Sabah.

Now, it’s this same Anwar that Jeffrey wants to talk to in order to persuade him to stay out of the fray in Sabah and Sarawak and “go back to Peninsular Malaysia”. If Anwar can do that – “that is, go away and stay away” – Jeffrey is willing to consider supporting Pakatan, in particular PKR, to oust the ruling BN from Putrajaya.

This is what Jeffrey told the media and Sabahans and Sarawakians in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday during a Borneo Tea Talk arranged by his NGO, the United Borneo Front (UBF), on behalf of the United Borneo Alliance (UBA) which includes STAR as well.

Political chameleon

Jeffrey would be better off to ignore Anwar in the same way that he’s being ignored by the latter.

As long as the de facto PKR chief continues to renege on his long-given promise to incorporate the local chapter and give full autonomy, it serves of little purpose to attempt to humour the political chameleon in him.

Anwar has never been noted for saying what he means and meaning what he says. Many, even in PKR, will concede that Anwar is a pathological liar, for want of a better term.

The imperial pomposity of Anwar knows no bounds.

He genuinely belabours from the fatal misconception that Sabah and Sarawak are among his family’s imperial properties along with Putrajaya and the prime minister’s post.

He fails to understand that he genuinely had a once in a lifetime chance, albeit underserved, of being the prime minister in mid-1995 but, fortunately for us all, Dr Mahathir Mohamad realised in the nick of time even before he (Anwar) blew it. That’s karma no doubt for what Anwar, with Mahathir’s blessings, did in Sabah in 1994 to the Dusuns when he brought down the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) on the back of defections in cahoots with SAPP, two moneybags from Labuan and Sarawak, and the Special Branch in Bukit Aman.

Jeffrey should honour his oft-given pledges in public that the third force in the Malaysian Parliament would steer an even course between Pakatan and BN.

This means no talks with PKR on anything until the 13th general election is over. Jeffrey may not have too many issues against Anwar and PKR in Peninsular Malaysia, apart from the Indian question which touches on the third force, but he certainly has plenty to beef about this man and his party in Sabah and Sarawak.

Jeffrey would be better off, come the national polls, if he engages with DAP and PAS in Sabah. Both these two parties have expressed willingness to incorporate locally and give full autonomy to the locals. That would make them eligible for membership in UBA.

Anwar’s only claim to credit was when he managed to woo some significant portions of the Malay votes away from Umno, in alliance with PAS and DAP, and jumped on the makkal sakthi – people power in Tamil – bandwagon which helped unleash the political tsunami of 2008.

Despite the absence of a single Indian majority state or parliamentary seat in Malaysia, the community affects the outcome in 67 parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia through their one million votes. It was here that Hindraf played a sterling role but Anwar, in his imperial pomposity, continues to deny them the credit that they deserve and belittles the NGO in any way he can from Kuala Lumpur to London.

The Indians, although they will not return to MIC and BN in any significant numbers for a long time, if at all, will never ever make the mistake of supporting PKR again.

Jeffrey must think big and capitalise on this all-important factor to woo the Indians away as a key element of a third force in the Malaysian Parliament.

On this score alone, the Dusuns and Dayaks – along with the Orang Asli, Christians, other minorities and fence-sitters in Peninsular Malaysia – have nothing in common with PKR and Anwar and his dynastic politics just as they have nothing in common with Umno and BN.

Ceramah Perdana ‘Selepas Bersih 3.0′ malam ini

Ceramah ini bertujuan untuk meneruskan momentum perjuangan bagi menuntut pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil.

PETALING JAYA: Perhimpunan Bersih 3.0 yang berjaya menggembling lebih 100,000 rakyat dan ada pihak menganggarkan berjaya menarik lebih 200,000 penyertaan, di sekitar Dataran Merdeka semalam sudah pasti tidak berakhir di sini sahaja.

Untuk meneruskan momentum perjuangan bagi menuntut pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil, pada jam 9.00 malam ini, ceramah perdana bertajuk ‘Selepas Bersih 3.0′ akan diadakan di padang bola Taman Dato’ Senu, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Ahli Parlimen Tian Chua, Manikavasagam, Ketua PAS Bahagian Batu Cikgu Isyak Surin dan Fadiah Nadwa, seorang peguam yang juga aktivis sosial akan mengisi program pada majlis ini anjuran Pakatan Rakyat Bahagian Batu.

Semalam ketika ditemui FMT, Ahli Parlimen Ampang, Zuraida Kamarudin berkata, sasaran untuk Bersih 3.0 tercapai dengan kehadiran rakyat turun bersama-sama menuntut pilihan raya bersih dan adil.

“Rakyat dah faham apa yang mereka buat dan tujuan mereka datang ke sini. Anak muda di kalangan bangsa Cina pun ramai yang turun,” kata Ketua Wanita PKR itu ketika ditemui di Jalan TAR.

Sekilas pandang, perhimpunan yang bermula dengan aman, temanya sahaja ‘Duduk Bantah’ membawa erti dan matlamat segalanya harus berjalan dengan baik dan aman tiba-tiba meletup dengan berlakunya kekecohan apabila pihak polis bertindak membuat provokasi.

Anggota polis dengan dibantu dengan trak FRU telah melepaskan gas pemedih mata dan water cannon ke arah para peserta yang berhimpun secara aman bagi menyuraikan para demonstran pada sekitar jam 3.00 petang.

Tindakan polis ini yang dilakukan tanpa memberi amaran lebih awal telah mencetuskan beberapa insiden kecil melibatkan anggota- anggota polis dengan orang ramai hingga menyebabkan kedua-dua pihak mengalami kecederaan, malahan ada yang cedera parah.

Di akhir ‘drama’ tersebut lebih 400 demonstran diangkut dengan menggunakan empat buah bas ke Pusat Latihan Polis, Jalan Semarak untuk mendapatkan maklumat peribadi bagi mendakwa mereka di mahkamah kelak.

Pada persepsi rakyat dan peserta Bersih, perhimpunan kali ini dianggap sebagai satu kejayaan dan mencapai sasaran seperti mana yang diungkapkan oleh Zuraida, ahli parlimen Ampang itu.

11 policemen hurt, four vehicles damaged

The rally-goers became aggressive after some opposition leaders gave speeches, says KL police chief Mohmad Salleh.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bersih 3.0 crowd had acted so aggressively yesterday that 11 policemen were injured, while four police vehicles were damaged, in the melee that took place in the city.

City police chief DCP Mohmad Salleh said that right after some opposition leaders and NGOs

had given speeches, rally-goers became aggressive and started pelting objects and charged through police barriers at Dataran Merdeka.

“Police took action by firing water cannon and tear gas to stop the crowd from marching forward,” he said in a press statement last night.

It said that in the ensuing trouble, 11 police officers were injured, of whom nine were sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and two to the UKM medical centre.

The victims are listed below:

1. Corporal Mohd Fairuz Zulkifli, a traffic officer from Kuala Lumpur, received injuries and scratches to the body after he was kicked and stepped on by protesters.

2. Corporal Abu Bakar Abdul Rahman, from the Putrajaya police district, suffered from a torn lip, bruises at the bottom left eye and pain all over the body when he was punched and pelted with objects which caused him to fall from his motorcycle.

3. Constable Azizi Mohd Noh, a Bukit Aman traffic officer, suffered from injuries on the cheek when hard objects were thrown at him.

Lance Corpral Mohd Nasir Abu Mansur, a traffic officer from Kuala Lumpur, suffered body pain after he fell from his motorcycle and was kicked in the stomach.

5. Lance Corporal Datu Mohd Johar Datu Shariman, a Kuala Lumpur traffic officer, suffered from eye injuries after he was punched.

6. Constable Mohd Nor Firdaus Abu Bakar, an officer from Putrajaya, suffered from a broken right arm.

7. Constable Mohd Kamil Parimin, an officer from Terengganu police headquarters, received seven stitches on the head.

8. Constable Zaman Ali, an officer from Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur, suffered from a broken nose.

9 Sergeant Shuib Jamaluddin, an officer from Kangsar, suffered from high blood pressure.

10. Lance Corporal Tuan Ruzi Tuan Seng, an officer from Machap, Johor, suffered from two broken teeth, a torn lip and bruises all over his body.

11. Lance Corporal Amirul Nawri, a police officer from Port Dickson, suffered breathing difficulties after he was punched.

Mohmad said the protesters also damaged two Proton Wajas, A Nissan X-trail, and a motorcycle belonging to the police.

Punched, slapped, kicked

Some protesters related to Bersih of the treatment at the hands of the police.

KUALA LUMPUR: Most of the protesters at the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday were allegedly beaten when they were at the Masjid Jamek area.

Many of them claimed the police carried no name tags or identification numbers on their uniforms when they launched their attacks at about 6pm. The assault lasted for three hours.

Some of the protesters related their ordeal to Bersih at a press conference at a restaurant near the Chinese Assembly Hall here today.

Protester Adrian Low (picture above), 38, said he was repeatedly stomped on his back even after he was detained. His back still carries the footprints of the police boots.

“I was at the side walk of the road, texting to a friend who had gone missing when about 10 police officers charged at me. I was wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirt.

“The officers kicked and punched me in the eye, head, neck,” he said.

“Then I was taken to Dataran Merdeka [which had been turned into a temporary detention centre]. There they continued to assault me.

“They just came and punched me continuously even after I was detained,” he said.

Beaten several minutes

Another protester, Nurul Amani Faizal (picture right), 28, said that 10 male police officers charged at her and beat her.

“They had just fired a tear gas at Masjid Jamek so my friends and I ran in the opposite direction. I wasn’t wearing the Bersih T-shirt but I was a rally participant. They caught hold of me and beat me.

“Then one officer slapped me and asked a female officer to arrest me,” she said, adding that she sustained injuries in her lower back.

Mohamad Fazwan Yusoff (picture below left), 23, who sustained bruises to his face and left eye, said that he was about to leave Masjid Jamek when the police dragged him and assaulted him.

“My friends and I saw the police step on a lady so we went to help her. Suddenly, a group of policemen appeared and attacked us too.

“I don’t remember how many charged at me but I was beaten for several minutes and they didn’t stop even in the police truck.

“They just continued their assault,” he said.

Daniel Lee (picture below, right), 39, who was in his Himpunan Hijau green T-shirt, said that he was assaulted for taking pictures of the policemen beating the protesters.

“I wanted to go back to Kelana Jaya. I was at Masjid Jamek station when I saw some policemen assaulting someone so I took a video. They then surrounded me.

“They didn’t take my camera but they punched and kicked me and I needed five stitches behind my ear,” he said, showing his blood-stained green shirt.

Photographic evidence

Bersih steering committee member, Wong Chin Huat, who was arrested himself, said that it was not unusual for the police to continue their insults and assaults even after the protesters were detained.

“They only stopped beating me when I fell to the ground; even then, they continued to shout racial insults in the trucks,” he said.

He also said that Bersih heard of policemen who were dressed in yellow Bersih T-shirts while videographing the detainees in the police trucks and detention centres.

Bersih co-chairman, S Ambiga, called for a full inquiry into the protest to identify “those who created the problem”.

“There is too many photographic evidence. When the dust settles, the truth will emerge,” she said.

The peaceful assembly turned violent at about 3pm when some protesters breached the barricade which cordoned off Dataran Merdeka.

Tear gas and water cannons were fired to disperse the 80,000-strong crowd. The police and protesters
clashed for about four hours before police regained control of the city.

As of last night, police said that 388 arrests were made.

However, Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, said that the police told PKR vice -president Tian Chua (who was also arrested) that 460 arrests were made.

“He was released at 5am this morning and the police conveyed the information [of the arrests] to him,” she said.

Ambiga: We can’t control what politicians say

The rally was to feature only speeches from Ambiga, co-chairman A Samad Said and songs, says Bersih.

KUALA LUMPUR: Election watchdog Bersih 3.0 has no control over what politicians say at its public events, its co-chairman S Ambiga said.

“We did not know that they [opposition] leaders were going to speak. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim came up and spoke to the crowd. There were groups in the crowd which wanted to hear the opposition leaders speak.

“I cannot control what they say,” she said amidst reports that opposition leaders had incited the crowd to breach the barriers at Dataran Merdeka during the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday.

She added that the plan for the gathering did not allow for politicians to speak.

In fact, she said that had Bersih known that politicians were going to deliver speeches, it would not allow them to do so.

“We wouldn’t have allowed them to speak,” she told a press conference today.

Yesterday, the peaceful assembly of about 80,000 people turned violent at about round 3pm when a few protesters broke through the barriers at Dataran Merdeka, which was sealed off.

The “attack” on the barricades prompted the police to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

The clash between the police and the protesters lasted for about four hours.

No political speeches

There were many news reports which singled out PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Anwar for inciting the crowd to breach the barrier.

Azmin reportedly told the crowd to reclaim Dataran which “did not belong to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)”.

Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, who also present, said the event was to feature only speeches from Ambiga, co-chairman A Samad Said and songs.

“Before April 28, all the NGOs agreed to exclude any political speeches by political leaders… that was also agreed upon by the political parties,” she said.

Ambiga said that she could not comment on Azmin’s actions as she did not witness it in person and asked for it to be investigated.

“But Anwar [when he was on the truck with Ambiga] did not order the crowd to charge,” she said.

She added that Bersih had the last word, and which was to ask the crowd to disperse.

“Let me tell you what happened: I was on the truck and we told the crowd to disperse. We were moving into Jalan Tun Perak to tell the crowd to disperse in stages.

“Then someone charged [at the barriers]; it had nothing to do with us; we want to know as well.

“In fact, it is against what Bersih had announced,” she added.

‘Work of agent provocateurs’

Ambiga said that this could have been the work of agent provocateurs and called for a full inquiry by Suhakam into the whole protest.

Ambiga said the crowd was under control until the tear gas was fired.

“What I saw from the truck was amazing: people were gathered peacefully.

“All purported acts of violence took place only after the tear gas was fired; until then we have complete control,” she said, giving credit to PAS Unit Amal which provided most of the security for the day.

She said that such large crowds can be controlled as can be seen during Thaipusam and Wesak Day celebrations.

Ambiga also asked why the train stations were shut during the protest when police were dispersing the crowd after 3pm.

“These people wanted to leave but couldn’t. Who gave (RapidKL) the order to do so?” she said.

On the incident where a police car was overturned near Sogo, she said:

“There were some accounts that the car was overturned because the crowd believed that someone was under the car. Don’t just publish the picture of an overturned car. Please don’t make assumptions,” she said.

She again called for a full inquiry into the rally to identify who were the trouble-makers.

As for organising another rally, Ambiga said that nothing has been decided yet, adding that the group will continue to highlight the irregularities in the electoral process.

“The government must answer and not deflect [attention] from the issue just because of the violence (at the rally).

“Some 250 000 Malaysians turned up to demand for free and fair elections; what is the government’s response?” she asked.

Bersih chief medical officer, Dr Farouk Musa, said that 117 demonstrators were treated for minor injuries and dehydration.

He added that those who were hospitalised had been discharged this morning.

Political strategy for cows

Yes, the Kesas Highway event was very successful. It was as successful as yesterday’s event. We were so damn sure that the success of the Kesas Highway demonstration meant that Barisan Nasional is finished. Even Dr Mahathir thought that Barisan Nasional was finished. That was why he resigned in 2002 and handed the government to his successor. But we were all proven wrong, Dr Mahathir included. Kesas Highway was a roaring success, no doubt about that. But 2004 was a dismal failure. 
Raja Petra Kamarudin
It seem that RPK is not making any comment about Bersih 3. Most probably he does not like what is happening. The massive turnout that may not favour Barang Naik, Ammo and Nacheat and finally it will be BeEnd for BN. Sometime I wonder what he is or which side he is on ???. It’s very hard to gauge. Could change colour anytime -- Steven Yang. 
That was the comment by a chap who calls himself Steven Yang and posted in Malaysia Today.
Today, yesterday, and in fact over the last many days, the stories in Malaysia Today were of nothing but Bersih 3.0. I suppose what Steven wants is for me to also jump onto the bandwagon and scream just like how many others are also screaming. Steven expects me to have a herd mentality. Since everyone is screaming, then Raja Petra Kamarudin should also be screaming.
Actually, I was on the road the last two days and just came home yesterday evening. I thought that today I will write something about Bersih 3.0 but because Steven has whacked me for not writing, and in the same breath made an allegation against me, then I am not going to write after all. Why should I give Steven the satisfaction of claiming that he successfully pressured me into writing?
Anyway, I do not do something because someone forces me to do it. In fact, I will do the opposite. If you try to force me to do something, I will intentionally not do it even though I had actually intended to do it in the first place. That is my stubborn streak, which has been with me since I was a teenager.
When we were forced to keep short hair, I kept long hair, right down to my shoulders. My ex-VI comrades from the 1960s can probably remember my frequent visits to Murugesu to receive ‘six of the best’. Then, when long hair became the fad, I shaved my head, like now. I know many call me ‘botak head’. So now I may keep my hair long again and tie it into a ‘ponytail’ since everyone now seems to have a shaved head.
Yeap, that’s me. I enjoy swimming against the tide. I love paddling upstream. I delight in fighting the current. And because of that I demonstrated in front of the Pudu Jail back in 1968 and had my first experience with tear gas when many of you were still in diapers or were not born yet.
When the huge crowd comes out for the Bersih 2.0 or Bersih 3.0 demonstrations, you also come out and demand that I write about the matter. You feel secure and comfortable in the knowledge that the crowd is huge and that means there is safety in numbers.
But I came out for the protests when the crowd was only 50. I protested the arrest of PKR’s Youth Leader, Ezam Mohd Nor, on Hari Raya Haji of 2001. Yes, less than 50 of us came out that day. And we protested in front of the police station where Ezam was being held. And we were arrested as well. And my wife and I spent a night in the police lockup. And the next day the police raided my house and confiscated my computer and many documents, which they used to detain me without trial a few weeks later.
An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 took to the streets yesterday. I suppose, from the way he is talking, Steven Yang was one of them. It is nice to take to the streets when you can hide within a crowd of 50,000 to 100,000. The problem would be when we need to protest in front of a police station in a small group of less than 50 and with 200 police with guns and truncheons facing us. When it is four-to-one in favour of the police, there is very little protection.
Anyway, while all the other demonstrators got beaten up by the lower-ranking police officers, I had the honour of personally getting beaten up by the CID Chief who was then the OCPD of Dang Wangi. I suppose I should regard that as VIP treatment. After all, my uncle was the Agong at that time so the highest-ranking police officer should be the one beating me up, not someone from the lower ranks.
Steven Yang probably feels that my silence is deafening. Maybe my lack of words has been interpreted as a show of support for Barisan Nasional and Umno. To prove my loyalty to the opposition, to demonstrate my support for Bersih, to show that I too want Anwar Ibrahim to become the next Prime Minister, I should ape what everyone else is doing and whack Barisan Nasional, Umno, the Prime Minister, the Ministers, the IGP, the police force, and whatnot. Only then can I prove my loyalty to the opposition, demonstrate my support for Bersih, and show that I too want Anwar Ibrahim to become the next Prime Minister.
Then what should I do next, Steven Yang? To prove that I am a good Muslim must I also whack the Christians who have been secretly converting Muslims to Christianity? To prove that I believe in God must I also whack lesbians and gays and urge that they be put to death just like how God had destroyed them, according to the Bible? To prove that I am a loyal Malay must I also whack the Chinese who are trying to grab power with a view to remove Article 153 from the Constitution and hence remove the special position of the Malays and the Malay Rulers or Raja-Raja Melayu?
What else should I scream about to prove I am loyal to Islam and to my race? What else should I scream about to prove I am loyal to Pakatan Rakyat and Anwar Ibrahim?
Hmm…maybe Steven Yang should condemn those Chinese who are demanding mother-tongue education instead of supporting Malaysia’s National Language, Bahasa Malaysia. If he keeps quiet it may be interpreted as that he is not a loyal Malaysian and should be sent back to China where he is free to go to a Chinese school.
As I said, if this is the attitude of Pakatan Rakyat supporters, then Barisan Nasional needs not work too hard to hold on to power. The attitude of the opposition supporters is enough to turn people against Pakatan Rakyat. And I do not blame Tunku Abdul Aziz if he decides to leave DAP. After what many of you have said about him, I really do not see any reason for him to stay in DAP. Maybe other Malays too would reconsider their decision of joining DAP. And it is not Umno that is the reason but because of the mentality of the opposition supporters. 
Your mouth is your own worst enemy. All I need to do is to keep quiet. Your mouths can destroy your own cause. So why do I need to say anything? I just let you do all the talking and watch you shoot yourselves in your own feet. And I must admit that you are getting very good at it.
You probably do not remember the Kesas Highway demonstration almost 12 years ago. That too was a huge demonstration and the crowd was not that far from yesterday’s crowd. However, come 2004, Barisan Nasional swept 91% of the seats in Parliament. It also kicked the opposition out of Terengganu and reduced PAS in Kelantan down to a one-seat majority.
100,000 people attended the Kesas Highway demonstration in November 2000 (read more here:
Yes, the Kesas Highway event was very successful. It was as successful as yesterday’s event. We were so damn sure that the success of the Kesas Highway demonstration meant that Barisan Nasional is finished. Even Dr Mahathir thought that Barisan Nasional was finished. That was why he resigned in 2002 and handed the government to his successor.
But we were all proven wrong, Dr Mahathir included. Kesas Highway was a roaring success, no doubt about that. But 2004 was a dismal failure. The success of Kesas Highway could not be translated into success in the 2004 general election. In fact, the reverse happened. Surprisingly, 2004 was the worst performance for the opposition.
So what is the issue here: to see success on the streets or to see success at the ballot box? One does not mean also the other. So don’t get too cocky. We are still very far from the finish line. We may be leading for 40 kilometres of the Marathon. But it is the final two kilometres that determine the winner. 
Sure, let’s celebrate all the battles that we win. Just make sure that we are also able to celebrate the winning of the war as well. Reserve some cockiness for the day you march into Putrajaya. And some of you need to do some ‘touch wood’, if you know what I mean.

Bersih 3.0, Government 0.0 again?

Thin blue line? (photo credit: The Sun)
Thin blue line? (photo credit: The Sun)
Police crackdown on rally in Kuala Lumpur once again earns international criticism for government
Protesters demanding reform of Malaysia’s election laws proved Saturday that they could draw an even bigger crowd than they did in July 2011, with attendance estimated by police at 25,000 and by Bersih at 250,000. Take your pick.

Both sides were claiming propaganda victory in the aftermath. Bersih 3.0, the 150-member coalition of NGOs for free and fair elections, said they had accomplished their goal of drawing massive numbers of protesters to the center of Kuala Lumpur in defiance of the ban on assembly in the historic Independence Square. Government officials said the police had acted responsibly in attempting to control the crowd only to have firebrands charge police lines and overturn a police car. More than 60 protesters were injured along with 11 police, authorities said.

In any case, the event focuses the spotlight on claims that the government, led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, has refused to accede to Bersih’s recommendations to reform the electoral process. Those recommendations included cleansing the electoral rolls, reforms of absentee voting, the use of indelible ink to mark voters’ fingers after voting to thwart repeat voting, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, and fair access to the media – a proposal almost impossible to fulfill, since the three major political parties own all the major mainstream news outlets, all of which have been reporting negatively on the plans for the protest.

Bersih has complained that only the indelible ink recommendation was accepted. Bersih also complained that the government pushed through a 3 a.m. measure in parliament to remove the right of candidates or their representatives to observe voter registrations on election day so that opposition leaders would be unable to spot phantom voters, and removed a requirement that all printed materials bear the name of the printer and publisher from campaign materials.

“The government will likely point to the late confrontation and violence as protester-instigated and try to blame them for the need to use a bit of force,” said a longtime western observer. “I doubt that view will get much public traction, however. The government will also say they used great restraint, which was true up until the end. We'll know better when arrests and body counts of injured, etc. are known.”

For starters, it appeared that the government had miscalculated by banning the rally in the first place. Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein earlier on had said the rally hadn’t “gained much traction,” and that it wasn’t a security threat. However, hardliners apparently won out, with the Kuala Lumpur city government banning the event only to have protesters show up from all over the country.

In the end it also appeared that police hadn’t learned the lessons from Bersih 2.0, the July 2011 rally in which 1,600 people were arrested and many more were beaten and brutalized, earning international condemnation for authorities.

Certainly, once again the international press appeared to be firmly on the side of the protesters, with news reports pretty much uniformly leading with police unleashing “tear gas and chemical-laced water Saturday at thousands of demonstrators who demanded fair rules for national elections expected soon.”

Although Bersih leaders acknowledged they had lost control of the crowd when the rally ended and a group described as “a few hundred” attempted to push past police barriers to enter the square, clearly seeking to provoke and be arrested in an attempt to win sympathy, it appeared that once again police had overreacted, beating, tear-gassing and dousing those left with chemical laced water from water cannons.

Certainly if the demonstrators were seeking to provoke the police, they got their wish. Both the local and international press including the television network Al Jazeera were filled with pictures of police battering demonstrators with tear gas, beating and kicking them and dragging them away. Some 488 protesters were arrested. News photographers complained that they were arrested and that their cameras were confiscated and emptied when they tried to film the violence.

Leaving aside the violence that marred the episode, “I think it shows that the Bersih movement is still on the rise and can pull more and more people into political action,” said the western observer. “Groups were going into the fray knowing that the government and police had announced that it was banned in advance and that they could be arrested. The demonstrators were clearly not cowed or afraid of the authorities. So that plus the sizeable turnout probably means a ‘victory’ for protesters.”

Also the crowd was mixed ethnically, contradicting pro-government assertions that the backbone was made up of minorities, primarily Chinese. With opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Democratic Action Party and Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS playing a bigger role, the confrontation had a more clearly opposition flavor than the demonstration that took place in July 2011.

“The opposition proved once again that they can mobilize and organize a very large multi-racial crowd,” said another observer. “Bersih 3.0 was an impressive achievement.”

At stake for both sides is the upper hand in national elections expected to be called in June, with parliament probably being dissolved sometime in May, as the Barisan Nasional, or national governing coalition, squares off against the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition led by Anwar. Wong Chin Huat, a university professor and member of the Bersih steering committee, told Asia Sentinel the organization intends to keep pressure on the Election Commission for political reform.

“We will continue the momentum from of the rally, we will press for international observers, we will continue our demands for free and fair elections,” Wong said. “We want the public to be aware, to express their objections, and put more pressure on the Election Commission over their questionable political reforms.”

Wong said Bersih had made its point clearly to the thousands of protesters, instructing them not to foment violence, only to have a small group surge into police barriers surrounding the square. The police, he said, overreacted. He himself was beaten and had his glasses knocked off well after the protest had ended as he was walking back from a meeting, he charged. He saw many others being beaten and mistreated as well, he said, with as many as 30 policemen “using a protester like a football.”

‘Rally Peaceful Until Protesters Were Provoked’

An international fact-finding mission on the Malaysian election also notes that the mainstream media is biased.

KUALA LUMPUR: An international fact-finding mission on election found that the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday was peaceful until the police acted provocatively.

Speaking at a press conference to present a preliminary report on the rally here today, independent Senator Nick Xenophon from Australia said: “It was peaceful [until the protesters were provoked].”

He also criticised the one-sided report on the rally in the mainstream broadcast media.

“The mainstream media is biased and unfair. We saw more of Prime Minister Najib (Tun Razak) in Sabah on television than the largest political expression in Malaysia,” said Xenophon.

Another member of the seven-men team, India Times editor MJ Akbar, said the participants were actually in a festive mood.

“The crowd had ample time to turn violent if they had wanted to. [But] there was a festive mood until the provocation happened,” Akbar said.

Senator Hasil Bizenjo of Pakistan was surprised that transport services to Kuala Lumpur were crippled yesterday.

“In other countries transport is provided for people to attend a rally. Here some people told me that they had to walk 20km to attend the rally,” Bizenjo said.

The other members of the team are writer Nasir Tamara of Indonesia, Clinton Fernandes of University New South Wales, Dean Amado Valdez of the Philippines and Juliane Schmucker from Germany.

Recalling a conversation the group had with Umno secretary-general, Tengku Adnan Mansor, Fernandes said:

“He [Tengku Adnan] stressed the importance of ‘avoiding racial strife. He also said improvement on election is not needed because the people here are immature.”

Fernandes also quoted Tengku Adnan as saying: “One of the problems with Indonesia is that there is too much freedom.”

However, Akbar said that “democracy needs freedom from fear and freedom of assembly”.

“It is unfortunate that some voices believe that this nation wants to exercise harmony without democracy,” he said, adding that he believes Malaysia deserves democracy.

The preliminary report also highlighted the mission’s concern over the integrity of the 240,000 election workers, and the lack of free and fair elections.

Bizenjo pointed out the weakness of Malaysia’s democratic institutions.

“The Election Commission looks so backward… It needs to improve. Even Pakistan has moved to electronic voting,” he said.

The members also declared their independence even though they were invited by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to witness the rally.

“We don’t care who wins. I am not a Malaysian,” Fernandes said.

Press Release: Police response during BERSIH 3.0 rally disproportionate and excessive

ImageThe Malaysian Bar is appalled at the abuse of the legal process and grotesque use of force by the police in connection with the BERSIH 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, 28 April 2012.
The crowds that had gathered for the BERSIH 3.0 rally reflected a broad cross-section of Malaysian society, and were peaceful.  The police were initially restrained, although they did try to stop people from reaching various pre-announced meeting points.  However, the attitude of the police underwent a sea-change at 3:00 pm that day.  The reported breach of police barricades in some areas does not justify the police unleashing the full force of their arsenal upon crowds that were peaceful.  The police have shown in this incident that they do not have the maturity, discipline and restraint required of a professional force.  In this regard the Malaysian Bar strongly disagrees with the Minister of Home Affairs’ assertion that the police acted professionally. 

The court order excluding members of the public from Dataran Merdeka is arguably defective in law due to a lack of specificity.  Given that the BERSIH 3.0 rally had been announced on 4 April 2012, there was no need to have obtained the order ex parte.  There had been ample opportunity for the relevant parties to be heard before deciding if such an order deserved to be issued.  In addition, the order was obtained with respect to a situation of the authorities’ own making, by their unjustifiable denial of access to Dataran Merdeka.  It is important to bear in mind that the Minister of Home Affairs had previously announced that the BERSIH 3.0 rally was not a security threat.

Nonetheless, having obtained the exclusion order, the police proceeded to disrespect the order by unilaterally closing additional roads and restricting access to other areas not covered by its terms. The terms of the order itself, the closing of the roads and the restriction in access gave rise to a tense situation that contributed to the unnecessary violence that occurred. 

As has been done with some other public assemblies in the past, the Malaysian Bar deployed lawyers and pupils-in-chambers to act as monitors during the rally, numbering approximately 80. Our monitoring teams reported witnessing the use of an array of heavy-handed tactics by the police, including the indiscriminate discharging of multiple rounds of tear gas without any obvious provocation, and arbitrary use of water cannons.  Police fired tear gas directly at the crowd. They also manoeuvred their firing pattern to box in the participants rather than allowing them to disperse quickly.  This is not action to disperse, but is instead designed to attack, a crowd.  When items were thrown at the police, the police stooped to return like for like. 

The Malaysian Bar does not countenance the belligerent conduct shown by a number of the participants.  However, we express deep and serious concern as to how the police responded. The police displayed a lack of restraint and proportionality, reminiscent of their actions at the BERSIH 2.0 rally on 9 July 2011.  Instead of displaying action to calm the situation, they instead aggravated it and contributed to the escalation of the conflict.  Although organisers of public gatherings must bear some responsibility when things get out of hand due to their action or inaction, this does not and cannot excuse the response of the police.  

The monitoring teams also witnessed numerous acts of police brutality, such as assault of arrested persons.  Instead of merely apprehending suspects, the attitude of the police was punitive in nature.  The reported attacks by the police on members of the media, both local and international, and the confiscation and/or destruction of their photographs and video recordings, speaks to police action in covering up or preventing a full and accurate record of the BERSIH 3.0 rally and the responses of the police.
Regrettably, the police also showed a general lack of cooperation towards the Malaysian Bar’s monitoring teams, and were hostile in their attitude and approach at times.  This is most unprofessional and unbecoming, and serves as an unhealthy development with negative connotations for the future.
The Malaysian Bar notes that yesterday’s events have not occurred in isolation, but stem from the fundamental problems that gave rise to the BERSIH 3.0 rally in the first place, namely the ongoing and outstanding issues relating to the electoral roll, and the lack of confidence in its integrity and that of the electoral process in Malaysia.  
Those who look upon Dataran Merdeka as a symbol of freedom will view the exclusion from Dataran Merdeka as freedom denied.  The promise by the Government to respect democracy and human rights, and implement reforms, was tested yesterday.  The Government’s response and actions during the BERSIH 3.0 rally provided an indication of whether the new reform legislation will be perverted and abused in its use and implementation, where the wide powers vested in the authorities call for measured, proportionate and mature exercise.  The events of 28 April 2012 do not bode well in this regard.
Transformation and real recognition of democratic rights come at a price, namely constant vigilance.  The cost of not transforming and not allowing Malaysians the proper exercise of our democratic rights is too high.  In Malaysia’s march towards developed nation status by 2020, which is only eight years away, the constitutional right to clean, free and fair elections cannot and should not be sacrificed.  
Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar

Report On Rally To Be Reviewed Before Submission To Attorney-General

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 (Bernama) -- A complete report on Saturday's rally organised by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and supported by the opposition will be handed over to the Attorney-General for the next course of action.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the police were reviewing recordings of the event, and recording statements from witnesses before the report could be finished.

"At the moment, justice and protection is what we want. I am told that each incident was recorded and it (recording) will be looked at during investigation and prosecution. Any concrete evidence will be brought to court.

"We want the culprit(s) to face the music and no exception will be made for anyone found guilty," he told reporters after accompanying Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to visit two media personnel and two policemen who were injured during the rally.

The aim of the rally was to demand for free and fair election but it turned chaotic after several protestors became unruly and violent. Asked to comment on the arrest of a media personnel covering the rally, Hishammuddin said: "I hope that is not true...but I will not protect anyone. Anyone who flouts the law will face action."

He urged the public not to speculate on the incident and to be fair towards all quarters, including the police.

Meanwhile, the minister denied allegations that security personnel instigated provocation at the rally, and planned to air the recordings as proof to the public.

He said the police had done their best, and disclosed that there were even those who had asked why the long arm of the law did not take sterner action.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin paid a glowing tribute to the courage of Al-Hijrah cameraman Mohd Azri Mohd Salleh who sustained injuries when he tried to prevent a group of protestors from assaulting a policeman.

"I extend my thanks to the Al-Hijrah cameraman for his courage and concern in helping the policeman who was injured after being assaulted by rally participants.

Penang Bersih 3.0 ends on a high

As you can see, all was peaceful and happy at Penang Bersih 3.0 attended by 7000 people – despite ‘phantom voters’ making an appearance!