KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — Riot police broke their own standard operating procedures (SOP) by firing tear gas and water cannons when dispersing Bersih 2.0 rally marchers at the Tung Shin Hospital on July 9, a Health Ministry investigation has concluded.
Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam said tonight that errant policemen would be referred to the police’s disciplinary board.“The investigation results concluded that there were unethical actions which were beyond the SOP of the Royal Malaysian Police when enforcement was performed on rally participants who were wrongly using the hospital premises,” Mahmood said in a statement.
Putrajaya and police had earlier denied any wrongdoing despite proof given by Bersih 2.0 and those at the rally.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is now waiting for police to answer questions into the incident after a complaint from Bersih, which held the rally to call for free and fair elections.
The Health Ministry probe confirmed police fired water cannons at demonstrators who were converging at the hospital.
“This action was solely to disperse groups of protesters who were gathering at the hospital area,” said Mahmood.
But Mahmood also said that tear gas was only fired in the direction of a car park outside the hospital compound and not into the hospital itself.
The report also found that smoke bombs were hurled by police at demonstrators who gathered in the car park of the neighbouring Chinese Maternity Hospital.
But it noted that the maternity hospital had ceased operations since September 2006 and would only reopen in December.
Mahmood said the Home Ministry “will not compromise on disciplinary action if it is found that there are (staff) who are proven to have violated operational guidelines.”
Police had absolved themselves of any wrongdoing during the July 9 rally after setting up six internal teams to investigate claims of police brutality that followed after nearly 1,700 were arrested, scores injured and an ex-soldier died during chaotic scenes in the capital.
But Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai ordered a second probe into the Tung Shin incident on July 14 after a group of medical consultants had written to the media refuting the hospital board and police who claimed that no gas canisters or water cannons were fired into the hospital.
The DAP then accused the authorities of sweeping the incident under the rug as its eye-witnesses were told by the Health Ministry in August to join “the police in building an investigation report that will be held soon.”
Police finally admitted on July 21 that Tung Shin was hit with tear gas canisters and water cannons during the rally, but denied shooting directly into the compound.
But this claim flies in the face of various video clips uploaded on the YouTube video-sharing site showing water cannons and tear gas being fired into the hospital.