IGP: We gave them choices

The Star – Friday November 30, 2007

PETALING JAYA: Organisers of the recent illegal gatherings were offered stadiums and other alternative venues to hold peaceful demonstrations but they rejected them.

“The organisers were adamant to hold them in the city streets,” said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan who revealed why the police rejected permit applications by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) for their gathering last Sunday and the Bersih coalition (on Nov 10).
He said police investigations into the groups’ activities found that public security and peace could be threatened.
“We cover their meetings and gather information.
“If we find their activities could be critical to public order we won’t approve them,” he said during question time at his talk on Democracy, Law Enforcement and Security: Perspective from the Royal Malaysia Police at the University of Wales Aberystwyth Alumni Club of Malaysia dinner here on Wednesday.
Musa said the demonstrators wanted to be in the streets because “they want onlookers to join them”.
“But not everyone likes demonstrations. When they gather in large numbers, they scare people and shops will close.
“They shout slogans that make people angry. They call the police ‘dogs’ but we keep a deaf ear.”
Musa said the police had no problems allowing peaceful gatherings. “For example, we allow unions gathering to protest about their salaries.”
The Hindraf gathering was to submit a memorandum to the British High Commission in relation to a class-action suit they had filed against the British Government for bringing in Indians to pre-independence Malaya as indentured labourers.
The Bersih gathering called for clean elections and submitted a memorandum to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
Musa said prior to the Hindraf gathering, the organisers had gone to Penang and other parts of the country where they made fiery speeches.
“If the authorities allowed Hindraf to go out in the streets to voice their dissatisfaction, others will make claims too.
“The Malays will say they had a good life during the Malacca Sultanate and you (the British) destroyed it … and it will go on and on,” the IGP said.
“When the police wanted to speak to the leaders of the Sunday gathering, they were no where to be found. They only came at 1.30pm.
“We offered to escort them to the high commission but they said they did not want. They said they wanted to send the memorandum to the Queen, instead,” he said.
On Bersih, Musa said: “We gave them an alternative venue but they insisted on gathering in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
“They are stubborn and that is the problem. We said they need not gather 20,000 or 40,000 people to submit a memorandum to the King and offered to escort them,” he said.
Musa added that the police were still waiting for the Attorney-General’s Chambers to decide whether those arrested in the Bersih-organised gathering would be charged in court.