Malaysia

DAP boycotts independent panel, wants Hanif removed

By Anisah Shukry

May 12, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — The DAP will boycott Putrajaya’s independent panel investigating the Bersih 3.0 violence as long as Tun Hanif Omar remains a member and chairman.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (picture) said today Hanif’s presence on the panel was a “clearcut case of conflict of interest” as the former Inspector-General of Police had revealed his opposition towards Bersih.

“The question at hand is not whether he has been fair and impartial before or that he was the former IGP. The fatal flaw was that he had already taken a partisan stand against Bersih by claiming that communist sympathisers were involved,” he said in a statement.

The Penang chief minister stressed that by linking Bersih to communism, Hanif was fighting yesterday’s “long-concluded wars” and that the results of the probe were now a foregone conclusion.

“Following his perverse logic, then Malaysia should not have signed the peace agreement with the Communist Party of Malaya on December 2, 1989,” he said.

Lim said Hanif’s support of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s allegation that the rally was an attempt to overthrow the government further jeopardised his impartiality.

“In actual fact, by making such wild allegations, he should be a potential witness to the investigation panel rather than be a member,” he said.

He said the panel would instead be better served by United Nations rapporteur Frank La Rue, who had offered to probe the matter, and his colleague Maina Kiai, as well as the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

He added that DAP also agreed with the Malaysian Bar Council over the independent panel’s lack of legal framework and legal immunity.

“For these reasons and Hanif’s presence in the independent panel... have raised deep public concerns that the investigation will either be a whitewash of police brutality on peaceful demonstrators, a massive cover-up of the sufferings of the victims or a pretext to justify BN’s wild lies that Bersih 3.0 was a coup d’état attempt,” he said.

Yesterday, the Bar Council said the independent panel had no legal standing, adding that Hanif’s anti-Bersih stand should disqualify him from leading the probe.

Bersih similarly dismissed the panel, saying the team led by Hanif would be biased and “nothing more than a glorified task force.”

Najib had pledged last week that “credible, experienced and respectable” individuals would investigate the violence during Bersih’s third rally for free and fair elections that descended into chaos after police clashed with protestors.

But Bersih pointed out in a press statement yesterday that “no indication has been given by the government as to what law will regulate the establishment and functioning of this panel.”

Najib’s choice of the former Inspector-General of Police to head the panel came under immediate fire from the opposition and calls are growing for Hanif, who led the police for two decades since 1974, to recuse himself.

Chaos reigned on the streets of Kuala Lumpur for over four hours after 3pm on April 28 when police fired tear gas and water cannons and chased protesters down the streets to disperse what had initially been a peaceful protest calling for free and fair elections.