By Hafidz Baharom
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 ― A policeman dragged accounts executive Hee Jenn Wei out of Citin Hotel on Jalan Melayu here on April 28 and forced him to run to Dataran Merdeka, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry into the Bersih rally heard today.
Hee, 25, from Kuantan, also alleged that he was kicked at by other policemen as he ran towards Dataran Merdeka where other protestors were also temporarily detained after the rally.
“At around 2.30 to 3 pm, participants in the rally started shouting ‘Go home, go home’ and I started to head back to the hotel,” he said today.
Hee, who wore a yellow Bersih T-shirt on the day, said he was resting at the hotel cafeteria with a friend before being singled out by a policeman who entered the promises.
“A policeman in uniform with a badge and no name tag pointed at me and shouted ‘You follow me’,” he said.
He said that the policeman had held on to his shoulder, led him out of the hotel where another officer allegedly struck him on the back of the neck.
“I was then forced to run to Dataran Merdeka with the officer holding on to my shoulder, while officers along the route kicked at my legs,” he added.
Hee was then grouped with other detainees at the Selangor Club ground before being transported to the Jalan Semarak Police Training Centre (Pulapol), where he was placed in detention without being charged until 4 am.
The panel also heard testimony today from Ramesh Ramasamy, the hotel’s sales manager who was working on the day of the protest.
According to Ramesh, he had headed up from the basement office after hearing chants of “Bersih” on the day.
“At 2 to 2.30 pm, I saw guests running into the lobby from the street, and then the tear gas came in,” he said.
He said the tear gas had affected him so severely that he was forced to go up to a higher floor for 30 to 40 minutes in order to recover.
“When I came down, the lobby was a mess. The security guard then told me that everything was under control,” he said.
He added that he was not told by the guard of the police detaining one of the hotel’s guests.
When asked if the hotel’s closed circuit television system (CCTV) would have recorded images on that day, the manager said that the front desk manager would have seen it.
He added, however, the footage would have been deleted after three weeks.
Also testifying today was The Star’s Puspanathan Periannan, 41, a 22-year veteran photographer who alleged that plainclothes policemen had made him delete imaged from his camera during the rally.
According to Puspanathan , he was told to do so after photographing a policeman with no visible identification on his uniform beating up a protester in front of Masjid Jamek LRT station after 6 pm.
The inquiry panel, led by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and aided by commissioners Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen, will be interviewing some 22 witnesses over a period of 22 days.
The inquiry continues on August 2.