By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has denied directing police to act violently towards Bersih 3.0 rally participants during the April 28 protest for electoral reforms, the Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily reported today.
The Bersih 3.0 sit-in protest for electoral reforms resulted in riot police chasing citizens on the streets of the capital amid the chaotic mix of clouds of tear gas, chemical-laced water and warning bells from police trucks.
“Neither I, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar nor any other high-ranking police officers have ever given such an order,” Hishammuddin (picture) told Sin Chew in an exclusive interview.
Describing this as an untrue and baseless claim, he stressed that “no one ordered police to use violence on Bersih participants”.
He said the government had learned from last July’s Bersih 2.0 that Pakatan Rakyat would use chaos to arouse public dissatisfaction.
He said 104,000 ordinary policemen had been deployed since 2am on April 28 to endure no untoward incidents happened.
“Since everyone doesn’t want to see the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), we sent the ordinary police force. I admit that they have not been trained to face riots, because it has always been the FRU that maintains public order (in such situations),” he was quoted as saying in the Chinese newspaper.
“All the FRU were hiding, because I wanted to prove to the world that we hope to see a peaceful assembly,” he said, adding he knew that most of the participants were peace-loving.
He said all was peaceful until the barricades were breached when some protesters “threw rocks and water bottles at the FRU, forcing the FRU to fire water cannons and tear gas.”
“The subsequent chaos was not desired, some examples being the overturning of the police car and police being attacked. Some police personnel were alleged to have used violence during arrests.”
Hishammuddin also dismissed claims that police had directed the shutdown of Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations, saying that the LRT service does not fall under their scope of control.
The DAP had last week demanded that RapidKL explain the reason for closing LRT stations, saying that it had “trapped” protesters who were allegedly “picked from the LRT stations, taken away and beaten up in the alleyways.”
RapidKL had earlier written on the social network site Twitter that the closing of LRT stations was a “police decision to ensure the majority is safe”.
Hishammuddin confirmed that rumours of police personnel beaten to death by protesters were circulated on the day of the rally.
However, he said an independent panel will probe allegations that police used force on protesters in retaliation.
He said he will submit the list of proposed members of the Independent Advisory Panel to the Cabinet tomorrow for its approval.
He said that Bukit Aman had set up two teams to carry out separate investigations — one on those who created the chaos, and another to investigate claims of police violence on the public and reporters, and the absence of name tags and numbers on the uniforms of policemen.