Saturday January 5, 2013
Tear gas decision at Bersih called for, says top cop
KUALA LUMPUR: City police chief DCP Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the decision to release tear gas during the Bersih rally last year was the right course of action but admitted his officers could have exercised more care.
“Although I did not give the instructions to fire tear gas on the day, I stand by the decision. It was the right thing to do, given that the situation was turning ugly.
“However, looking at the injuries some participants allegedly sustained from the canisters, I think the officers could have been more careful when firing,” he said yesterday during Suhakam’s inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.
Mohmad was the last of 49 witnesses who testified in front of the panel comprising Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and commissioner Detta Samen.
He also explained that while he was in charge, he had been based at the operations centre in the KL police contingent headquarters.
“My team monitored the situation via real-time video feed, and had kept in touch with officers on the ground through walkie-talkies.
“I did not interfere with the instructions they were receiving until the commotion, after which I issued an order via walkie-talkie to all officers to retreat immediately,” he said.
Mohmad added that most of the instructions on the day had come from then Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman, including the order to fire the tear gas.
On a related matter, Mohmad told the panel that some changes had been made in police training after Bersih.
“In accordance with the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act, we are training police officers to understand the difference between a riot and an assembly and how to act based on the situation.”
The panel will hear submissions from the inquiry’s observers on Jan 10, before listing its recommendations.