Crossing the line

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Crossing the line

Crossing the line

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
  • Bersih Polis
Has the Malaysian Bar Council crossed the line by leaving important details out of its final report on the Bersih 3.0 rally? (Graphic by Dayang Norazhar/The Mole)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar Council’s final report on the Bersih 3.0 rally contained several glaring omissions, giving rise to a suspicion that the report was intended to paint the police as the bad guys, says a blogger.

 

The blogger who calls himself John F SeaDeamon wrote that the authorities had conducted themselves properly when they barred Bersih 3.0 participants from entering Dataran Merdeka, and also when they reacted to rally participants’ breach of police barricades.

 

The authorities respected not only the demonstrators’ right to assemble, he said, but also that right’s built-in limitations.

 

“It is a misconception that there are no limitations to Human Rights.  It is a gross misconception, too, to think that the Right to Peaceably Assemble comes without any form of limitation.  Article 29(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says so,” he wrote.

 

That particular section of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, means the authorities can put a stop to assemblies that disturb the peace.

 

“Basically, you can’t create a safety hazard. You can’t disturb the peace. You can’t incite a riot. You can’t create unsafe conditions,” he said.

 

The blogger said the authorities were working within the law when they barred rally participants from entering Dataran Merdeka and showed considerable restraint right up until the barricades were breached.

 

“The dispersal of the assembly was only done when the participants, after being signalled by a politician, breached the barricades protecting the Dataran Merdeka,” he said. 

 

“Even then, before the breach at 2.50pm, the police allowed the participants to rally,” he said.

 

“The police were upholding the law by protecting the Dataran Merdeka, as ordered by the Magistrate via a court order issued under Section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he wrote. “ If that is so wrong, then is the Bar Council not interested in upholding the sanctity of the law?”

 

“The Dataran Merdeka does not fall under the definition of a public place.  It is not a park where people go picnic or jog at; it is not a square that is open to the public like the Trafalgar Square is; it is not a street or a sidewalk or an avenue or pavement or even a footpath.  It is protected under a By-law made under the Local Government Act, 1976,” he said.

 

The blogger said that while the Bar Council’s preliminary report on Bersih 3.0 mentioned several incidents in which participants in the rally acted in an aggressive manner – including the breach of police lines upon the urging of certain politicians -- the hastily-prepared final draft of the report omitted such incidents and shifted blame to the police.

 

“Not a single sentence from this preliminary report was included inside the Bar Council’s final report; nor was there any mention of the video of a politician signalling the order for a breach of police barricade be made.  Instead, the final report painted a picture that the police had already fired tear gas BEFORE this signal-event even took place,” he said.

 

He said there were also incidents in the final report that had not appeared in the preliminary report, further fuelling suspicions about the report’s accuracy.

 

“None of these were in the preliminary report, yet conveniently appeared in the final report that was prepared in haste for the EGM called,” he said. “Was the idea of producing this report and the subsequent condemnation of the police a deliberate act to vilify the police?”

 

“I personally do not take the Bar Council’s final report seriously,” he said. “I do not believe it was made objectively, nor was it a fair report made with good intention.”