KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 - Excessive force was used by certain police officers against a group of demonstrators at KLCC last year, with one officer being positively identified as one of the aggressors.
In Suhakam’s 355-page report of the public inquiry into the incident on May 28 last year, which was released yesterday, the panel found that excessive force was used on an otherwise peaceful assembly.
The report said excessive force was used on 10 persons and identified L/Kpl Mustika Lambonding as being the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officer who hit one of the demonstrators, Lee Huat Seng, with his baton.
However, witnesses were unable to identify the other officers because there was no identification (either names or badge number) due to the outer protective armour covering their uniforms (that had nametags).
The panel also examined whether the assembly at KLCC was peaceful and orderly, and the report included excerpts from the inquiry, particularly with the then Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Kamal Pasha, who was the overall ground commanding officer that day.
ACP Kamal told the panel that he expected the crowd to be “unruly and rowdy,” in contrast with Chief Insp Pusparajan and L/Kpl Mohd Nasaruddin Abdul Aziz (both from the FRU), who felt that the crowd was orderly.
ACP Kamal said the crowd was uttering unpleasant words about the Government and that bystanders would have reacted by fighting among themselves.
Panel chairman Datuk K.C. Vohrah said the assembly at KLCC was peaceful and orderly and that the police, in dispersing the assembly, had interfered with the right to the freedom of assembly that was enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
Vohrah said the heart of the panel’s recommendations was the decriminalising of peaceful assembly without a licence under section 27 of the Police Act and the call for the repeal of related subsections.
“In lieu of the requirement for a licence, the panel recommends that the organiser of a proposed peaceful assembly notify the police, and the police and organiser discuss practical arrangements.”
The report’s recommendations added that the rights of any person engaged in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent are not limited by any authority and it should also be ensured that such rights would not be considered as prejudicial to national security.
The report also outlined a number of steps that it recommended the police implement urgently, such as wearing clear identification during crowd control, and prohibiting the chasing and arresting of people who are moving or have moved away.
The panel of inquiry that comprised Vohrah, Datuk Choo Siew Kioh, Datuk Dr Micheal Yeoh and Datin Paduka Zaitoon Datuk Othman, said the report would be forwarded to the related authorities on Monday. theStarOnline