Media Statement: Incident in Batu Burok, KT

1. On 8th September 2007, the Coalition for Free and Fair Election or BERSIH that comprises various political parties and NGO’s planned to hold a peaceful rally in the form of road show to convey their demands for a free and fair election in Batu Buruk, Kuala Terengganu.

2. In compliance with the standard requirement, organizer of the event applied for a police permit, which was however rejected by the local police despite appeals made.

3. In preparation of the event, the organizer erected a stage for the rally but at 5pm on the said day, the police trespassed into the said area and dismantled the stage without prior permission from the property’s owner.

4. The police also conducted several road blocks to prevent members of the public from approaching the said site.

5. At approximately 9.40pm BERSIH leaders and representatives including, Dato’ Mustafa Ali (PAS State Commissioner) were refused entry to the site. Also present were Dr Syed azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi (BERSIH representative), Haji Muhammad Sabu (PAS representative), Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (PKR representative), YB Leong Ngah Ngah (DAP representative) and Haji Azmi Hamid (TERAS representative).

6. Negotiations were held between the representatives and the police, however the police insisted that the program be called off.

7. Tension erupted between the police and members of the public that have gathered for the event. The FRU arbitrarily discharged their water canon and fired tear gas towards members of the public, and this went on till late night.

8. An under cover police personnel later was found to have fired several shots towards members of the public who were assembling peacefully. One of the shots hit a member of the public, Suwandi Abdul Ghani, 37 which penetrated his lungs, while another, Muhamad Azman Aziz 21,was hit in the neck. Suwandi has been transferred to HUSM Kubang Kerian (from KT Hospital) for further treatment in a critical condition.

9. Dozens of members of the public were injured, 4 of them in serious condition.

10. 23 members of the public were detained by the police including three reporters. Two of them have since been remanded.

11. In the frenzy quite expectedly public property were damaged. And it subsided only after the police left at approximately 1.30am.

We therefore find:-

  1. This unfortunate event occurred when the police denied the organizer permit for this peaceful rally despite an early application and appeal submitted.
  2. That after having abided the decision made by the police to call off the event yet the police continued to apply provocation.
  3. The main purpose of the event organized by BERSIH was to disseminate understanding amongst the rakyat of their democratic rights in demanding for free and fair elections. BERSIH among other demands, advocate the use of indelible ink, a complete revision of the electoral roll, the abolishment of postal votes and ensuring a fair media access.
  4. Unfortunately, the police were used to block members of the public from exercising their rights in a democratic state, when they instead should focus to reduce the escalating crime rate in the country which is more of a menace to the rakyat as a whole.
  5. We therefore find that it is most unfortunate that live bullets were used to disperse a peaceful rally. The usage of live bullets in addressing an issue such as this is most regrettable.
  6. We therefore find that the police have failed to tackle this issue based on their own standard and procedures. There was no announcement whatsoever made for the crowd to disperse peacefully.

We hereby demand:-

  1. That the Minister of Internal Security who is also the Prime Minister and the Inspector General of Police explains the usage of live bullets in dispersing a peaceful event such as this.
  2. All peaceful rallies conducted by any legitimate body should be accorded full assistance by the police without any need for a police permit.
  3. The police should never be manipulated by the ruling Umno/BN for their cheap political interest.
  4. The Terengganu Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh as the Chairman of the State Security Committee should bear full responsibility in this unfortunate event.

We representatives of BERSIH hereby reiterate our full commitment in demanding for a democratic free and fair election in our beloved country.

Kuala Lumpur

10th September 2007