By Nomy Nozwir
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 ― In a bid to escape tear gas canisters fired during the April 28 Bersih rally, demonstrators at Dataran Merdeka had tried to break into Menara DBKL through its glassed main entrance, a City Hall official told the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) at its public inquiry today.
But their attempt failed due to the 1,300 Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officers guarding the building then, Mohd Zulhainan Mohd Isa ― who was among the men on duty ― told a three-man panel investigating allegations of violence and power abuse during the sit-down rally at the landmark square organised by electoral reform watchdog Bersih.
“When the police fired the tear gas, the rally participants ran from Dataran Merdeka headed towards the DBKL building.
“They then tried to break in through the DBKL building’s glassed front entrance,” said Zulhainan, who was on duty from 7am to 10pm that day.
He said DBKL officers had been instructed to stand guard behind anti-riot police ― the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) ― while the rally was underway, to prevent the rally participants from damaging “the Mayor’s property and to also block the demonstrators from entering Dataran Merdeka”.
The civil servant said public property had been damaged, including trees, metal barricades and metal road signs but DBKL officers did not arrest anyone that day.
Police officer, ASP Kamarul Rizal Jenal, who was today’s second witness, testified that investigations were still ongoing into allegations that a reporter covering the rally had been beaten up by police.
Radzi Razak, a reporter with English-language daily, The Sun, had complained he had been assaulted by some six to seven police officers.
Kamarul told the panel that the suspects had been narrowed down to 30 officers in a line-up but the police had yet to identify the culprits.
The policeman said two reporters who had stepped forward to assist with investigations had failed to get a good look at the officers’ faces.
“The two witnesses could not see because they were standing behind at the time of the incident,” he told the inquiry today.
The witnesses were only indentified as Khairul and Fairus, reporters with news portal Antara Pos, and Malay daily Sinar Harian respectively.
The inquiry, headed by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and aided by commissioners Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen, will resume on Wednesday at 9.30am.