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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A lesson for Najib, Hisham, the IGP and EC from the UK police chiefs

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:00 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Malaysia - Bersih Tear Gas

London Riot
It looks like Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government have really dropped below the level of sub-par intelligence. They seem adamant to compare Bersih 2.0 with the riots in Britain. The whole idea that preemptive action can stop riots underscores how little the Malaysian police and BN government understand their own citizens. On a more chilling note, it also reflects the determination of the Najib administration to continue using electoral fraud to cling to power.
The premise for the riots in Britain is totally different from that of the Bersih's in Malaysia. The former was spontaneous sparked by unhappiness over an alleged case of police brutality, while the latter was a well-organized and highly-publicized rally for free and fair elections that everyone in the country had been anticipating for months.
The UK police found a brutal situation on their hands, whereas the Malaysian police created a situation that was unnecessarily brutal.

Making Malaysia a laughing stock once too often
But Prime Minister Najib is determined to hang Bersih with the London riots. It doesn't matter that he is already starting to draw flak and ridicule for his poor 'intellectual' judgment or that the international community gets treated to another dose warped logic just so he can hammer out his point of view to benefit himself. Does he not worry about giving the world an image of a stereotypical banana republic dictator? The writing is already on the wall for him but the sooner he leaves office, the less damage to the country's image is done. Malaysians here and abroad are fed of being made to look like kampung buffons or village idiots by ill-informed and unthinking leaders.
In London, the initial candle-light vigil for the slain youth was hijacked by hooligans bent on showing their dissatisfaction towards the British government. This in turn worsened when other youths took to the streets and proceeded to burn and destroy public property. Most of the news accounts paint the rioters as a bunch of looters, destructive and unhappy with the government’s economic policies. It was sheer spontaneous aggression and the scale on which it happened does demands the UK government's review of its social policies, which Prime Minister David Cameron has already agreed to do.
In Malaysia, the BN government had full knowledge of Bersih’s intentions, demands and even march route. No attempt was made by Bersih to hide any of its plans. The organising committee actively tried to negotiate for a route with the police and would have accepted any that was furnished, but no, the police closed the door on Bersih's face. Najib and his establishment had ample time to discuss and mitigate with the Bersih to address public concerns over the need for free and fair elections. But again no, Najib chose to play the supreme dictator. Nothing is wrong with the existing electoral system, he insisted. And is still insisting.
Compare the professionalism of the UK police with Ismail Omar, Khalid Bakar
The difference between the Bersih rally and the London riots is so stark that Najib's foolishness in trying to use it to his advantage has again boomeranged. What can better highlight to Malaysians here and abroad and to the international community, the sorry differences in the level of governmental and institutional professionalism than the stance adopted by the UK police chiefs.
Firstly, there was no use of water cannons and tear gas even when the UK police were pelted with stones and Molotov cocktail bombs.
Secondly, a statement by Sir Hugh Orde, the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, England should bring real shame to the police and the BN government in Malaysia.
Sir Hugh was responding to David Cameron’s call for more extreme measures – such as water cannons and batons – to be taken by the police in order to deal with the rioting. Below are his replies published in the Guardiannewspaper
Sir Hugh on the position of the UK police:
“One of the greatest strengths of British policing is that operational decision-making is conducted not by politicians, but by professional chief police officers who have spent their whole career in policing. While David Cameron today referred to some of the more extreme measures available to us, they are not new, and responsibility for their deployment remains entirely a matter for chief officers. There can be no confusion here at all; it is a fact that we cannot be ordered to police in a certain way but we will be held robustly accountable for what we choose to do or not do.”
The usage of water cannons and batons:
“As one of only two officers in the country to have ordered the use of water cannon and baton rounds in public-order policing, my professional judgment is it would be the wrong tactic, in the wrong circumstances at this moment. Both require an extremely precise situation. The use of water cannon, while logistically difficult, works against large stationary crowds throwing missiles at police or, as I witnessed in Northern Ireland, at other communities. It achieves distance between police and unlawful crowds that is often vital.
"Utilising baton rounds, an even more severe tactic, is fundamentally to protect life. When I ordered their use, again in Northern Ireland, my officers were being attacked by blast bombs and live fire. I would always use both with a heavy heart, but it is always an issue of proportionality.”
The need for a long-term model of policing:
“What we have seen so far is not soft policing, and although I understand the enthusiasm of politicians and communities for robust measures, excessive force will destroy our model of policing in the long term. What we must hang on to in all of this is the British model of policing, premised on human rights and the minimum use of force.”
Why to hide their faces now
Against such a high level of professionalism exhibited by the UK authorities, where are Najib Razak, Hishammuddin Hussein, Ismail Omar and Khalid Abu Bakar hiding their faces now? For the information of all, Najib is the sad and sorry PM, Hishammuddin is his cousin and the Home Minister, Ismail Omar is the Inspector General of Police and Khalid Bakar is the Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Together, the four men concocted the 'strategies' that led to the Bersih crackdown on July 9. In the process, this gang of four also destroyed Malaysia's image and are now trying to justify themselves.
One last pont, Malaysian diaspore also held simultaneous rallies in more than 30 cities throughout the world on July 9. In which city did a riot break out and for the edification of the Najib administration, Australian police actually praised Malaysian ralliers for their orderly and well-behaved demonstration.
And yet here at home, more than a month after the Bersih rally, Najib and cohorts are still trying to spin new lies - all for the purpose of discrediting the movement for free and fair elections and to de-legitimize its call for reforms. Should Malaysians let them get away again?  

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