Suhakam's Siva 'unfit' for complaints on cops

Andrew Ong (Malaysiakini)
Nov 30, 07
A human rights commissioner found himself in a spot today when a group of complainants told him that he was unfit to receive the their grouses.

This led Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner N Siva Subramaniam to leave the room.
The drama unfolded at the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, where the Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC) had gone to submit a complaint on alleged police aggression at Batu Caves, the night before the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
Siva and fellow commissioner Prof Khoo Kay Kim were both assigned by Suhakam to handle the complaint.
However, Siva’s presence became the first thing on GCC’s agenda.
Together with two of their lawyers, GCC representative Charles Santiago objected to Siva receiving the complaint because of his statement to the media on police conduct during the Nov 10 Bersih rally.
A flurry of accusations were leveled at Siva, who remained smiling throughout.
Totally unacceptable
Khoo tried to diffuse the tension by saying that Suhakam considered Siva’s comments as his personal opinion but the GCC representatives were not convinced.
“We wish to place on record, that we don’t want Siva to receive the complaint,” replied GCC member and lawyer A Sivanesan.
“(Siva’s views on the Bersih rally were) totally unacceptable. The issue for which we are here today is similar to the issue which Siva commented on,” added another lawyer N Surendran.
At that point, Siva picked up his belongings and left the room, still wearing a smile.
Following this, GCC members made an oral submission of their complaints to Khoo, who later told the press he was “saddened” by the misunderstanding.
Siva had drawn flak since his comments were published in the Star newspaper which stated that Suhakam “defended the behaviour of the police” during the Bersih rally.
“Suhakam monitored the entire protest from morning till evening. I think it was on most accounts a peaceful demonstration and the police reacted accordingly,” he was quoted as saying.
GCC representative M Manohar told reporters later that Siva’s comments contradicted what really happened at the Bersih rally.
“In order not to blemish what we are here for today, we politely asked him to leave,” he said.
No hard feelings
Met later, Siva explained that he had monitored the Bersih rally from a motorbike and was entitled to his preliminary views.
“I don’t feel hurt… I’ve been in the trade unions for 35 years. This is quiet normal,” he said when asked about the earlier incident.
“Since they feel more comfortable presenting their views to other commissioners (and I have other cases today) I decided to go,” he added.
However, the commissioner also took a swipe at his detractors. “Looks like at the end of the day, I cannot say anything. (To them) that’s what democracy is.”
The commissioner said he was scheduled to receive complaints at Suhakam every Friday.