Responding to their criticism of the police, the former premier says the lawyers should be tasked with maintaining security during the next violent protest.
PETALING JAYA: Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has criticised the Malaysian Bar for taking the police to task for its reaction to the Bersih 3.0 rally last month.
Defending the police, he said the men in blue had no choice but to use force in order to stop, what he termed as hooliganism.
In future, Mahathir suggested that the Bar Council be tasked with keeping peace and order during violent demonstrations and riots.
“I am sure Bersih 4.0 [under the Bar Council's watch] will be free of violence as the demonstrators would not be stopped from breaking rules and laws,” he said in his latest blog posting.
Yesterday, the Bar passed a resolution during its extraordinary general meeting condemning the police for using excessive force during the rally.
The lawyers also demanded a public apology from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar.
Noting that the police had restrained themselves, Mahathir said in other countries, the protesters could have been shot.
‘What are they supposed to do?’
Recounting what had transpired on April 28, the former premier asked: “What are the police supposed to do?”
“Allow the hooligans to do what they like? Accept being kicked by the hooligans? Accept having their patrol cars being smashed and overturned?” he said.
Mahathir said there were supposedly 250,000 protesters who took to the streets, noting that the figure was 250 times more than that of the police, and they were violent.
“They broke the barriers set up by City Hall to stop them from going into Dataran Merdeka. From the video clips and pictures the demonstrators not only broke the barriers but attacked, literally attacked the police who were tasked to keep the demonstrators from breaking the barriers.
“They chased police cars, shattered the windscreen and overturned it. They kicked a policeman who had fallen on the ground,” he said, adding that the police was forced to retaliate.
“They [the police] cannot just stand by and do nothing or allow themselves to be beaten up or allow public property to be damaged. To prevent this violence they need to use force,” he said.
‘We owe the police force’ According to Mahathir, Malaysians owed much to their police force.
The police, he added, might not be a perfect force but Malaysians felt safe and secure when they were around.
“How would we like to do away with the police altogether? How would we fare if the police are not allowed to use force against their assailants?
“I would like to see what members of the Bar Council would do if people kick them, smash their car windscreens and overturn them. They would be running to report to the police. When the police are assaulted who do they run to?” he asked.