Sunday November 11, 2007
Teargas and water cannons used on illegal assembly, 245 held
By LOONG MENG YEE, PAUL CHOO and RASHITHA A.HAMID
KUALA LUMPUR: Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse thousands of people who tried to march from Jalan Tun Perak to Dataran Merdeka for an Opposition-led illegal assembly yesterday.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said the police were forced to use teargas and water cannons because the marchers refused to disperse when instructed to do so at 2.30pm. He put their number at 4,000.
He said 245 people were detained for questioning but were released after their statements were recorded.
“We exercised restraint in our approach and only resorted to using teargas and water cannons to disperse the gathering,” Musa said, adding that no teargas or water was sprayed into the Masjid Jamek mosque in Jalan Tun Perak.
The gathering was organised by The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih), a group of 60 non-governmental organisations supported by five Opposition parties.
Thousands had gathered at five meeting points in the city – the National Mosque, Masjid Jamek, Dataran Merdeka, Central Market and at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman next to the Sogo departmental store – as early as 8am to join in a walk to the Istana Negara.
Police only used teargas and water cannons at the Masjid Jamek meeting point.
At 3.55pm, Bersih’s representative Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi handed a memorandum to a palace official. The document urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to intervene to ensure a fair and just election.
He was accompanied by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The marchers began dispersing at about 4.30pm.