The return of water cannons:
PM condones police's recent high-handedness and abuse of power?
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
of Malaysian peace lovers gathered in front of the US Embassy office
yesterday, staging a protest against the US continued military occupation in
Iraq. The event was part of an international protest organized in
conjunction with the second anniversary of the Iraqi War.
While peaceful demonstrations in many
other parts of the world went on smoothly, the one in Kuala Lumpur was
disrupted by the police by brutal force. The authority not only has
shamefully mobilized its riot police (FRU), they also brought back its
infamous water cannon units, shooting powerful water cannons with chemical
at the protestors.
The protestors were there to send a
strong message to the US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, urging both of them to withdraw their troops from Iraq in order
to put an end to the daily street fighting and suicide bombings which have
taken several thousand valuable lives of Iraqi people and Americans and
The disruption of the anti-war protest
yesterday has marred Malaysia’s reputation as a peace-loving nation. It
also sends a message to the world community that the Malaysian Government
has no more sympathy, support and solidarity with the Iraqi people who have
suffered a great deal in the past two years.
This is not the first time Malaysian
police under the leadership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi have
resorted to undemocratic and high-handed tactics against peaceful gatherings
of political parties and NGOs.
On March 1, 2005, they have also
disrupted the launching ceremony of the Restoration of Local Government
Elections campaign organized by DAP. Six DAP leaders including MP Fong Kui
Lun and Setiawan State Assemblyman Nge Koo Ham were arrested at Dataran
Merdeka (Independence Square) without justification.
The return of water cannons reminds
Malaysians of the bitter chapter under the iron fist of Mahathir Mohammed.
The Prime minister should clarify whether he condones police’s recent
high-handedness and abuse of power. He should also apologize to the
peace-loving protestors. Or Malaysians must now begin to realize they are
living with a “smiling tiger”. Didn’t someone have just warned that
the honeymoon is over?
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew,
DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief