Batu Buruk riot: Fu blames the organisers

Yoges Palaniappan (Malaysiakini)
Oct 31, 07   

Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow pinned the blame on the organisers of a ceramah (public forum) for the riot in Batu Buruk, Terengganu, last month.

In winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2008 in the Dewan Rakyat today, he said the incident could have been prevented if the organisers had followed the orders from the police.
“Even though the organisers had applied for a permit, it was rejected by the district police chief. No approval was given because of the unsuitability of the venue chosen,” said Fu.
A clash broke out following the police’s decision not to grant a permit for the ceramah organised by the opposition-backed election watchdog Bersih.
The incident left several people injured, including policemen. Two men, Suwandi Abdul Ghani, 37, and Muhamad Azman Aziz, 21, sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and neck respectively after being shot by a policeman.
Meanwhile, Fu (BN-Kuantan) said the venue chosen for the ceramah was unsuitable as it was near a residential area and the state palace.
“Even the state police chief had said that the venue was too small for such a big gathering,” he said, adding that the organisers also did not have proper planning to handle the crowd if the gathering went out of control.
Dissatisfied with the explanation, Abdul Halim Abdul Rahman (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) argued that the organisers did follow the orders and called off the ceramah.
“The clashes started at around midnight. There was no ceramah at that time. How could the police blame the organisers?” he asked.

‘Live bullets’

Responding, Fu said that although the ceramah was called off, the organisers had not informed the public of the cancellation and thus, the crowd had gathered at the venue causing the clashes.
On that note, Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) said it is the responsibility of the police to provide security for the public and not to misuse and abuse its power.
Citing a temple demolition in Klang yesterday, Lim asked: “Why were the members of the public injured in the demolition of this temple? Why is it that the police does not have a standard operating procedure?”
Fu defended the police’s action to fire live bullets at the crowd, which he justified as being appropriate to control the crowd.
At that juncture, Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian), who was annoyed with Fu’s reply stood up and shouted that he (Fu) had misled the Dewan Rakyat by saying that the organisers did not follow orders from the police.
He also urged Deputy Speaker Lim Si Cheng to refer Fu to the parliamentary Committee of Privileges under Standing Order 36(12).
“It’s an accusation! He’s claiming that the organisers did not follow orders. We’re talking about firing live bullets at the crowd!” said Salahuddin.
The deputy speaker brought the situation under control and ordered the debate to continue.