Suhakam: Cops reacted correctly during protest

12 Nov 2007

KOTA BARU: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has defended the behaviour of police during Saturday’s protest march in Kuala Lumpur.

It said no illegal arrests were made and police reacted only when they were challenged physically during the protest.
Human Rights Commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the police only moved to quell the protests when the crowd got rowdy.
“Suhakam monitored the entire protest from morning till evening. I think it was on most accounts a peaceful demonstration and police reacted accordingly,” he said after a human rights dialogue with the people here.
The demonstration, organised by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) – which called for more transparency in the next general election, caused major traffic jams throughout the Klang Valley.
Subramaniam added that Suhakam would propose to the Government to have a system to allow for peaceful demonstrations in the country as it was part of freedom of expression.
He said that the proposal would be forwarded to the Government in light of unhappiness expressed by certain quarters over their rights to hold demonstrations in the country.
The system calls for peaceful demonstrations to be held in open areas, far from urbanised zones and the organisers have to ensure that the law is not breached.
It also calls for ample notice to be given to the security authorities to ensure there would be no untoward incidents, Subramaniam said.
Suhakam vice-chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun said he received complaints that when Barisan Nasional holds a demonstration, no action is taken.
“I think a system to conduct a peaceful sense of demonstration can be looked at. One which does not disrupt the daily lives of residents and far away from urban settings,” he said.
Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who also attended the dialogue, said human rights was a basic democratic right, so the Government should go ahead and allow peaceful demonstrations and that action should be taken only when the protesters throw stones or injure people.