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Ex-IGP’s appointment renders panel a ‘sham’

 | May 9, 2012

Hanif Omar's appointment to head the independent panel to probe police violence during the April 28 rally has drawn flak from both Bersih and opposition leaders.

KUALA LUMPUR: Polls watchdog Bersih 3.0 and opposition leaders today described the independent panel set up to probe police violence during the April 28 poll rally a sham.

Critics said the announcement made earlier this evening that former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar would head the panel had undone Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s reform credentials.

Bersih 3.0 steering committee member Wong Chin Huat said the outcome of the panel’s investigation into alleged police violence against media personnel and rally participants was as good as done – “that the police would be made to look innocent” given Hanif’s prejudice towards the movement.

Hanif had claimed in the past that the coalition for polls reform, backed by the federal opposition bloc Pakatan Rakyat, had communist elements and was aiming to overthrow the government through a coup, an allegation that the latter denied.

The statement was made before thousands thronged the city streets less than two weeks ago in an otherwise peaceful rally that turned chaotic after police used force to disperse the crowd.

“That is as much independence that you can get from the Najib administration,” Wong told FMT.

‘Panel is not independent’

Opposition leaders echoed his sentiment, calling Hanif’s appointment an “embarrassment.”

“He has been bashing Bersih from the beginning. All I can say is that the panel is not independent,” PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who is the most vocal opposition leader to back the polls reform group, told FMT.

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang in his twitter posting called on Hanif to reject the offer “after his horrific support of Najib’s wild allegation about a coup d’etat or the Bersih 3 panel would lose all credibility.”

PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar, speaking to FMT, said Putrajaya’s move to appoint the former IGP made clear the ruling coalition’s intention to cover up the violence and pointed to the government’s refusal to allow observers from the United Nations to conduct the probe.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Putrajaya’s rejection of the proposal was a matter of principle – that Malaysia was against “outside interference” in its affairs, an excuse often used to deny foreign observation of the elections.

Other members of the panel were former Chief Judge of Borneo Steve Shim, Sinar Harian managing editor Hussamuddin Yaacub, legal adviser to Media Chinese International Liew Peng Chuan, Petronas corporate
affairs senior general manager Medan Abdullah and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia psychology Prof Dr Ruszmi Ismail.

No representatives from the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) were included in the lineup despite strong calls by both Bersih 3.0 and opposition leaders to include them.

Wong and Mahfuz said the exclusion only strengthened accusations of possible discrepancies in the probe.


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