Former Dang Wangi OCPD Mohamad Zulkarnain Abd Rahman was grilled for almost six hours today at the public inquiry on alleged human rights violations during the Bersih 3.0 rally.

This makes his testimony as the ground commander at Dataran Merdeka one of the longest at the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) public inquiry.

NONEZulkarnain (left), who is now the deputy director of the police internal affairs division, appeared to be evasive when questioned by the panel as well as observers from the Bersih coalition and the Bar Council.

In one instance, the wording of the court order barring members of the public from entering Dataran Merdeka was disputed between Zulkarnain and Andrew Khoo, who was holding a watching brief for the Bersih coalition.

Zulkarnain was the person who applied for the court order just days prior to the rally and Khoo was questioning the basis and validity of the court order.

Khoo: Please read out the second paragraph of the second page.

Zulkarnain: This court has hereby found that Bersih 3.0 would go on despite without authorisation from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall or informing the Dang Wangi police.

(Bahawasanya didapati oleh mahkamah ini Bersih 3.0 akan dilaksanakan walaupun tanpa kelulusan dari pihak Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) atau dimaklumkan kepada pihak polis daerah Dang Wangi.

Khoo: I want to focus on the sentence ‘or informing the Dang Wangi police’. That refers to you yourself right?

Zulkarnain: Yes.

Khoo: So according to this order, you are saying that the Dang Wangi OCPD (you) was not informed about the rally?

Zulkarnain: That is not right.

Khoo: Not right? Why?

Zulkarnain: Although without authorisation from DBKL OR informing... That means I was informed but DBKL has not consented.

Khoo: So your reading is that you have been informed?

Zulkarnain: Yes.

Khoo: But if we read what is written in the court order, it says the Dang Wangi OCPD was not informed.

Zulkarnain: That is your reading... it does not say “despite not informing the Dang Wangi OCPD”.

Khoo: That is the only way it can be read!

The dispute lasted almost 10 minutes and settled in Khoo’s favour, but not before the panel’s chairperson Khaw Lake Tee and other observers stepped in to clarify matters.

Khoo later produced letters to prove that the Zulkarnain was informed of the rally.

'Court order not published in Gazette' 

Meanwhile, Bar Council observer Roger Chan argued that the court order may have been null and void because it is not published in the Gazette.

He said this is necessary under Section 90(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code since a notice of the court order could not be served to all would-be participants of the pro-electoral reform rally.

When the question was put to Zulkarnain, he agreed that a notice could not have been served personally to the protesters and would be void if not gazetted.

However, he said he understood gazette (diwartakan) as being publicised, and did so by posting posters around Dataran Merdeka.

Tan then clarified that he meant the Gazette published by the Government Printer, which Zulkarnain said was not done.

However, he maintained that the order was valid and the barricade cordoning off Dataran Merdeka was legal.

When cross-examined by ACP Jamaluddin Abdul Rahman who was holding watching brief for the police, Zulkarnain agreed to his suggestion that he is empowered to erect roadblocks under Section 26 of the Police Act, as an alternative to obtaining court orders.

The section says roadblocks may be erected on any public road or place if the police deem it necessary for the “maintenance and preservation of law and order or for the prevention or detection of crime.”

The public inquiry, now in its 19th day, would resume on Oct 8.