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Monday, July 30, 2012

A&W staff: No commotion at outlet during Bersih rally


The assistant manager of a fast-food outlet near Dataran Merdeka was unable to corroborate the claims of a Bersih 3.0 participant, who had described a commotion on the premises during the rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.

Nasir Abdul Ghani told the public inquiry panel at the Humans Rights Commission of Malaysia that he was on duty at the A&W outlet in Bangunan Cahaya Suria, Jalan Silang, on the day of the rally.

"I heard raised voices but I didn't see any commotion when the police came inside the restaurant," said Nasir, recalling the situation about 7pm that day.

But he also said that he did not have a direct view of the room as he was ‘hiding’ behind the counter at the time.

Last week, witness Karam Singh Charan Singh had told the panel that he was having a drink at the outlet about 7pm when the police rushed in.

He also said the police personnel had punched him in the face and ordered him to remove his yellow t-shirt, forcing him to return home shirtless.

NONENasir said the outlet had opened for business at 8am, but a decision was made to close it about 11am when the crowd marching to Dataran Merdeka swelled to thousands.

"We shut down operations and the order was to stay inside until everything ended. We opened again about 7pm.

"People were walking in. None I observed were wearing yellow t-shirts. There were less than 20 people - about two to four at every table.

"I heard something happening outside so I instructed my staff to lock the doors again and open them only when customers walked in or out.

"A while later, a group of police officers, including some who were not in uniform, banged on the door.

Nasir, who was manning the cash register, said the staff hesitated a little before someone unlocked the glass door. The employees retreated to the kitchen, while he hid behind the counter.

‘Cop had yellow t-shirt’

Although he testified that he had heard "raised voices", he did not hear what was said.

NONEPanel chairperson Khaw Lake Tee (right) asked if he had looked up over the counter or peeped at what was happening, but he said the thought had not occurred to him.

He reiterated that he did not see anything but that, when the police left, one had a yellow Bersih t-shirt in his hands.

Nasir also noted that the rally had disrupted business at the outlet for the day, as they had to close the premises at the height of the assembly to ensure the safety of the staff.

ACP Jamaluddin Abdul Rahman, who is holding the watching brief for the police force, asked if the police had acted appropriately in the restaurant.

"The police can come in, but they must show their identification card and talk to the person- in-charge first," Nasir responded.

The inquiry is headed by Khaw and assisted by commissioners Detta Samen and Mahmood Zuhdi A Majid. It resumes on Wednesday.

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