Loss of lives possible at July 9 rallies, says IGP
The country's top cop believes that the July 9 rallies may end in chaos and even fatalities, based on police observation and analysis.
KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar sounded an ominous warning today when he said that if the July 9 rallies were to take place, lives might be lost.
“Based on our observation and analysis of this impending gathering, we believe that it would cause tension, chaos, and destruction of property, injuries and maybe even loss of lives,” Ismail told a press conference at Bukit Aman here today.
Ismail said that police observations since June 6 showed that certain quarters have been “openly and secretly” asking people to participate in the Bersih rally.
“This includes distributing leaflets and T-shirts. There are also attempts by certain quarters, including foreign elements, to exploit the situation,” he said, but declined to elaborate.
Ismail said so far, a total of 1,830 reports have been lodged against the rally.
He said that the rally could disrupt the life of the people and, if not stopped, could jeopardise the safety and harmony of the country.
“We would not allow this. We will act sternly against any organisers and participants who want to go ahead,” he said.
Ismail added that to date, 101 have been arrested. Some 45 people are still in custody and police are continuing investigations and would take action against the offenders.
“I am monitoring all the words and actions of all people. If any individual does something that goes against the law, we will act,” Ismail said.
He added that advice has been given and police have so far been civil. “Don’t let it go beyond that.”
Meanwhile, Omar met with Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali today to dissuade the latter from holding a counter-rally on July 9.
Ismail was expected to meet with Bersih 2.0 chairman S Ambiga tomorrow at 11.30am while Umno Youth deputy chief Razali Ibrahim was supposed to turn up today.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting, Syed Hassan said the police had sent a letter requesting Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali’s presence at the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters.
Ibrahim, however, is currently in Kelantan.
“The IGP was just giving advice and a reminder. It is sort of a briefing to coax us from holding the rally,” Syed Hassan said, adding that it was a short discussion with Ismail and several other officers, including Kuala Lumpur police chief Amar Singh.
“He was explaining to me how having such a rally will inconvenience and scare the public,” he said, commending Ismail for taking this approach.
“He repeated that the police will have to take action if the organisers insisted on going against the law and holding the July 9 rally without permits,” he added.
However, Syed Hassan said that Perkasa would only back down if Bersih 2.0 cancelled its rally.
“If anyone should be arrested, it should be the Bersih people first. They claim to have the people’s voice, but we are also representing the people’s voice. See who has more people then.
“Their motives are unclean, they are not Bersih. They just want to shame the country and pressure the government. Their leaflets are not all about the election, they’re talking about price hikes and all,” he said.
Ambiga, when contacted, said she would meet with Ismail tomorrow.
“I still have faith that good sense will prevail. I believe that all channels of communication must always be kept open,” she added.
Meanwhile, PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu, whom the police said had failed to show up despite being summoned today, claimed that he did not receive any calls.
“I’ve been asked to give my statement at the Gombak district police headquarters tomorrow, not today. And not by Bukit Aman,” he said.
In another development, Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah, Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez and activist Hishamuddin Rais were questioned at the Dang Wangi police headquarters.
Fernandez called her investigation under the Police Act and Sedition Act as “definite intimidation and harassment”.
“The police are trying to create ridiculous fear, which will not work,” she said.