Bersih wants Siva out of Suhakam

Yoges Palaniappan & Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Nov 13, 07

Elections watchdog Bersih today called for the resignation of Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam for defending the violation of human rights by the police force at a mass gathering last Saturday.

In a press conference held in the parliament lobby today, Bersih committee members said that Siva acted out of his duty as a human rights commissioner by justifying the police action in subduing protesters at the rally.
DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok, reading out from a media statement, said that not only the commissioner has failed to defend the right of citizens to peacefully assemble, but had also told the press that the police only moved to quell the protest when the crowd got rowdy.
“More shocking is that Siva had told New Straits Times yesterday that the police did not use violence to control the crowd and that they have acted professionally on the matter,” said Kok.
“Siva is either completely incompetent or utterly dishonest to make such a statement. He has brought further shame to Suhakam which has failed to investigate the police shooting in the gathering at Batu Buruk in Terengganu.”
Kok also rebutted claims that the gathering was illegal. She cited the federal constitution which allowed for every citizen to peacefully assemble without arms.
The Bersih-organised rally saw some 40,000 people taking to the streets and the submission of a memorandum to the King calling for electoral reform.
Shocking and disappointing
Meanwhile, Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng said that Siva’s statement was shocking and disappointing.
“There is abundance of evidence documented by the international media, which showed the violence committed by the police on that day. I don’t know how Siva can say that the police did not commit violence in handling the crowd,” he said at the same press conference.
“His statement has also deviated from the mandate of Suhakam to protect and promote human rights. In that sense, Siva should resign from his position as a Suhakam commissioner,” he added.
Yap said that Siva should visit the victims hospitalised to see for himself if the police had used excessive violence.
When contacted from comment, Siva refused to say anything further on the matter, saying that the commissioners’ meeting have decided that all matters pertaining to the rally must be spoken through Suhakam chairperson Abu Talib Othman.
Suhakam deputy chairperson Simon Sipaun, when contacted, however said that the statement made by Siva was on an individual basis and did not represent the rights body’s view.
Abu Talib was unavailable for comments.
Police statement tomorrow
At the same press conference today, commenting on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s statement that the opposition was dragging the royalty into opposition politics, PAS central committee member Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad said the members of the public has every right to complaint to the king as he is the ruler of the country.
“We don’t intend to drag the royalty into this, but if the Election Commission and the police refused to listen to our qualms, where else can we go?” asked Syed Azman.
Syed Azman also said that Bersih’s steering committee has declared Saturdays to be its ‘yellow wave day’.
Meanwhile opposition leaders and Bersih committee members Ronnie Liu, Salahuddin Ayub, R Sivarasa and Syed Azman will be meeting an officer from the Bukit Aman’s commercial crime department on Thursday to give their statement over a police report lodged against Bersih.
On Nov 3, the committee members received a call informing them that a police report had been lodged by an individual in Setapak about Bersih’s status as an illegal organisation.
They were supposed to have meet the police officer yesterday but the meeting was cancelled.