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Media statement by Teo Nie Ching in Serdang on Wednesday, 4th January 2012:

UPSI must stop intimidation, PDRM must be accountable for its actions

I was shocked to learn that Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) Legasi Mahasiswa Progresif secretary Siti Nurul Piteriah Abdul Halim, a participant in the sit-in which resulted in a bloody scuffle with the police on Sunday morning, has been expelled from her residential college.

The Malay daily Sinar Harian yesterday also quoted UPSI vice-chancellor Junaidi Abu Bakar as saying that Siti Nurul Piteriah will not be spared disciplinary action.

The harsh and unreasonable action meted out by the university is totally unjustified and uncalled for, and proves the need and necessity for the students to organise the Sunday morning sit-in protest.

As an educational institution, the university should always act in the interest and well-being of its students. It is sad to see UPSI choose to oppress the students hand-in-hand with the police.

On New Year's Eve, the police took brutal action against the undergraduates who participated in the peaceful sit-in protest for academic freedom. The movement's president Safwan Anang was assaulted and hospitalized with serious injuries, raising more public outcry.

The Perak police chief, Mohd Shukri Dahlan, unsurprisingly denied all allegations of police brutality claiming that the undergraduate injured himself by walking into a glass door.

Going by the track record of the police particularly in custodial deaths, I am sure many Malaysians will not buy the explanation by the police.

During the political upheaval that engulfed our country in 1998, Anwar Ibrahim was ejected from his privileged position as the Deputy Prime Minister, and charged for corruption and sodomy. He was then put in prison for 5 years. Midway through the trial, he appeared in court with a black eye. It was an image that shocked the world.

The police vehemently denied that Anwar had been assaulted and faked a medical report to claim that the black eye was a result of self-inflicted injuries. But the truth eventually emerged -- Anwar had been assaulted by former IGP Rahim Noor while in detention.

Similarly, during the Bersih 2.0 peaceful assembly, in their efforts to disperse the crowd, the police did not spare even hospitals. They unleashed the water cannons and fired teargas canisters into the compound of Tung Shin Hospital.

Although solid evidence and reliable eyewitness accounts were presented to the police, the police denied any wrongdoing on its part. MCA President Chua Soi Lek said that the video clips were not good enough citing different "camera vantage points". Even the Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who technically should act in the interest of the hospital, sided with the police.

However, the indomitable spirit of the people and the relentless pressure by eyewitnesses finally forced the Health Ministry and the police to set up an inquiry committee. After a three-month probe, the Health Ministry finally issued a report confirming that the police did fire chemical-laced water at protesters who sought refuge in Tung Shin Hospital's multi-storey car park and main entrance. The police was also fund to have fired tear gas canisters into the parking lot of the Chinese Maternity Hospital.

Although the controversy of Tung Shin Hospital was cleared up, there is another unresolved controversy as PAS Deputy President Mohd Sabu had claimed that he had a fractured kneecap as a result of being knocked down by a police vehicle.

In the incident, Mohd Sabu said that he rode pillion on a friend's motorcycle from the vicinity of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to the National Mosque for prayers. When he was on Jalan Travers, the motorcycle he was on was knocked into by a Proton Waja with 4 policemen inside. The collusion impacted his knee and he fell onto the side of the road. Another police vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero, then took him to Jinjang Police Statoin.

The police of course issue their customary denial and claimed that the knee injury suffered by Mohd Sabu was a result of him falling down onto the road. However, Dr Nurul Azlean Norzan, who attended to Mohd Sabu, said that she could not fathom how his knee injury could have been incurred by merely falling onto the roadside.

Another withness, Dr Ankimtay Rutel, an orthopedic surgeon at KL General Hospital, who also attended to Mohd Sabu concurred that the swelling and abrasions on his right knee was consistent with Mohd Sabu's claim that he was knocked down. If in fact Mohd Sabu was not knocked down by a vehicle, there would not be a tear in his cruciate ligament.

It is a sad fact that PDRM has been caught lying one too many times. Stern action must be taken against those police personnel who have abused their power and privileges, rather than the students who have had to go through a nightmare on New Year's Eve just because they believe in their right to academic freedom.

* Teo Nie Ching, DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary & MP for Serdang



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