Aliran regrets that the police have resorted to mindless force to break up a peaceful gathering that included women and children. A video recording of the police action leaves us distressed and dumbfounded that water cannon and tear gas was directed at the gathering with such intensity.
We find it difficult to understand that a crowd of 300 could pose a threat to national security of any significance or that it was likely to cause traffic havoc.
Compare this to the state-sponsored open-house gatherings, which seemingly attract more than 100,000 Malaysians. We wonder how the police are able to safeguard the security of the nation without the presence of hundreds of police personnel, water cannons and teargas. It only goes to show that if the police choose to allow certain assemblies to take place without any interference or hindrance, nothing untoward would take place.
They could have approved a permit for today’s gathering, identified a route for the people concerned to take, determined the duration of the assembly, and generally helped in the control of traffic. This would have been in keeping with healthy democratic practices. But then, are we pro-democracy? That’s where our problem lies.
Aliran executive committee
16 February 2007