I refer to HR Sampangi's letter 'Kudos to decisive police action against illegal rally'.
I don't think HR Sampangi was at the said rally, because he/she would have then known that this assembly was not an opposition-led gathering. It was organised by the Coalition Against Police Misconduct (led by Suaram) to support the handing over of a memorandum on abuse of police powers.
In fact, if you were there, you would not have claimed that those of us who did participate in this assembly were "only interested in creating chaos and disrupting the peace and harmony that we enjoy in this country."
Let me ask you another question: Do you really believe that people who dare call for the police force to be more transparent, fair and humane are no more than troublemakers with their own political agendas? Another question while we're at it: Is exercising one's right to gather at a public space, peacefully, to express one's concerns just a cheap publicity stunt to you? Your letter certainly implies as much.
It is sad that we citizens have gotten so used to the brainwashing by state propaganda that we view ordinary fellow citizens who just want to express their concerns and exercise their right to do so as law-breaking thugs, while the real wrongdoers the perpetrators of violence and bullying (who ironically, are the very people whose job it is to protect and defend us) are given the thumbs up and kudos.
There is a royal commission on the police and former lord president Salleh Abbas is a member. So what? There have been police commissions before; have they achieved anything? The ex-IGP who was in charge of Operation Lalang sits on the same board; do we expect him to give us justice? But you are right; we should give them a chance. Which is why the organisers will be handing a similar memorandum to them soon.
But you see, we wanted to give the police force a chance too. And we don't see why we have to wait for a commission that is unproven in its efficacy (for all we know, they might be another Suhakam: all bark, no bite) to deliberate on the matter while civilians die in police custody or are gunned down by trigger-happy officers. Why shouldn't the police force clean up its act now?
And yeah, we did have a 'hidden agenda' for this assembly. We wanted to reclaim our democratic spaces. We want public land to be available to the public. We want the right to move freely and speak freely. We could just leave it to the government but like you so elegantly put it, "the responsibility does not lie in the hand of the prime minister or the government alone, but also in every citizen's."
In other words, we are just doing what every Malaysian should do. Like Benjamin Franklin said, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security."
Dear Sampangi, you say that this was an illegal demonstration. I say that what the police did was illegal. It was brutal, unnecessarily harsh and quite simply out of line. I say that the law which makes this assembly 'illegal' is itself unconstitutional and therefore should be nullified. I say that those of us who gathered in front of Bukit Aman last Saturday morning, for whatever reason (even if to gain pre-election publicity), had a fundamental right to be there.
The police chief defended the use of water-cannon to disperse us using the age-old excuse that "things got out of control". It was the police who were acting like brute barbarians. We participants were taught how to behave, and behave we did. We were completely peaceful and non-disruptive. Maybe the water-cannon should have been directed at the police officers themselves?
And come on, do you honestly think we have real elections here? We already know who's going to win. It isn't an election; it's a 'sandiwara' in the guise of an election. Here's wishing we'll have a good 'sandiwara' this time around!