Monday, 13 August 2012
Officer doesn't know how cops' name-tags came off
The police officer in charge of overseeing Dataran Merdeka during the Bersih 3.0 demonstration said he did not know how the name tags of officers came off at the peak of the protest.
ASP Ahmad Jais Usang, who was Dataran Merdeka zone chief for the protest, said when he gave a briefing to some 1,000 officers at Dataran Merdeka that morning, everyone had their name tags on their uniform.
“In the morning at the briefing all of them had their name tags,” he told the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) panel at its Kuala Lumpur headquarters this morning.
However, unlike the formal police uniform which also carry the officer’s number, the operations uniform used that day would only carry the wearer's name.
The inquiry which entered its 13th day today, is aimed at investigating alleged human rights abuses during and immediately after the protest on April 28.
Ahmad Jais explained that while some uniforms had the name sewn onto them, others used velcro where the names could be attached and removed at any time.
At this, the panel's chief Khaw Lake Tee pointed out that even for those who had their name tags on during the Bersih protest, it was still difficult to identify the police officers.
"Names like 'Ong' are very common... even the 'Koh' we are looking for has yet to emerge,” she said in reference to a police officer whose name was raised a few times at the hearing but could not be located to testify.
At this, another commissioner Detta Samen said it would be best for police officers to carry their full name on their tags, to which Ahmad Jais responded: "That could be a good suggestion".
"Even my first name is a singer's name," he quipped in reference to the 1970's pop singer.
Several witnesses who were protesters at the April 28 rally had complained that police officers on duty did not bear their name tags and therefore they could not identify those whom they claimed had assaulted them.
'Demonstrating is rioting'
During the hearing, Ahmad Jais had repeatedly referred to the protesters as rioters, to which commissioner Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid interjected: “What is the difference between a demonstrator and a rioter?”
After a long pause, he replied: "They are the same thing. Demonstrating is rioting and rioting is demonstrating."
When pressed further, Ahmad Jais explained that he only described the protesters as “rioter” after they breached the barricade at Dataran Merdeka and that they were "participants" before the breach.
Explaining his duty, Ahmad Jais said he was tasked to oversee officers at Dataran Merdeka who were to form human shields behind the barricades set up around the iconic square but conceded that some barriers had gone beyond the area designated as out of bounds in the court order against rally organisers.
He added that in a briefing to his officers that morning, he had specifically instructed his officers not to engage protesters or arrest them as they would be handled by the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).
'No instructions to arrest'
"In the briefing, I told my officers if they are provoked, let it be and not to arrest anyone, if the barricade is breached then withdraw and station behind the FRU," he said.
However, Ahmad Jais said he was unclear why his officers had begun arresting protesters after the barricade was breached and said that the instructions could have come from one of two of his superiors on the ground.
He noted there were teams of police officers in charge of conducting arrests but they did not fall within his purview.
Correlating this was inspector Norazmee Mohamed (right) who was in charge of sector 2 in the Dataran Merdeka zone which was along Jalan Parlimen and Jalan Tun Perak, intersecting Jalan Raja.
The other three sectors in the zone were: Sector 1 - Lebuh Pasar Besar near the Bar Council headquarters; Sector 3 - The stretch along Royal Selangor Club; Sector 4 - Jalan Hishammuddin near the Daya Bumi complex.
While there were specific instructions not to make arrests, Norazmee agreed that individual police officers could still do so in their own capacity if the situation necessitated it.
He further explained that individual police officers need not file a report after their duty ended unless they were injured.
He added that only their superiors need to this.
The hearing, which began on July 5, will resume on Wednesday.