By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. One of the favourite accusations against the police in the West is “police brutality”. No doubt there is and there will always be police brutality in the West and elsewhere. But the term is used indiscriminately and even when the police apply some permissible force in the course of their work, they are likely to be accused of “police brutality”.
2. The recent Bersih demonstration in which the demonstrators are obviously violent has given rise to the accusation of police brutality. Even the pictorial and video evidence that the police were violently attacked by the demonstrators have not stopped the Bar Council from accusing the police of brutality.
3. There were it is believed some 250,000 demonstrators. i.e 250 times more than the police. They were violent. They broke the barriers set up by City Hall to stop the demonstrators from going into the Merdeka Square. Obviously from the video clips and pictures the demonstrators not only broke the barriers but attacked, literally attacked the police who were tasked to keep the demonstrators from breaking the barriers. They chased police cars, shattered the windscreen and overturned it. They kicked a policeman who had fallen on the ground.
4. What are the police supposed to do?? Allow the hooligans to do what they like?? Accept being kicked by the hooligans?? Accept having their patrol cars being smashed and overturned??
5. Obviously they must try to stop this hooliganism. They had a need to use force. They cannot just stand by and do nothing or allow themselves to be beaten up or allow public property to be damaged. To prevent this violence they need to use force.
6. In other countries they would not just threaten but would probably shoot their assailants. As far as can be ascertained they did not use their side arms. They must have restrained themselves.
7. I would like to see what members of the Bar Council would do if people kick them, smash their cars’ windscreen and overturn them. They would be running to report to the police. When the police are assaulted who do they run to?
8. We owe much to the Malaysian police. It is not a perfect force but we do feel safe and secure when they are around. How would we like to do away with the police altogether? How would we fare if the police are not allowed to use force against their assailants?
9. Next time let’s have members of the Bar Council to keep law and order during violent demos and riots. I am sure Bersih 4.0 will be free of violence as the demonstrators would not be stopped from breaking rules and laws.