Monday, August 08, 2011

Bersih: Now Ministry of Health Abdicates Responsibility

Tung Shin probe a whitewash, says DAP
By Shannon Teoh August 08, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The DAP has accused the authorities of sweeping under the rug the firing of tear gas and water cannons into the Tung Shin hospital compound during the July 9 Bersih rally.

Although Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had ordered a “high-level” ministry probe into the incident, publicity chief Tony Pua (picture) said he was informed by the Health Ministry on August 5 that it was now “joining the police in building an investigation report that will be held soon.”

“The minister initially delegated his responsibility to his secretary-general. Now the whole ministry is delegating to the police.

“After more than a month since Bersih, all the police have done is release some heavily-edited video clips to show how nice they were. The Health Ministry has got no courage to declare the truth,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP said.

Party international secretary Liew Chin Tong also accused the police of “trying to rewrite history with its own version of what happened.”

“It is regrettable that police can still refuse to accept responsibility and admit its mistake,” the Bukit Bendera MP told reporters today.

In the aftermath of the rally that saw tens of thousands dispersed by police with tear gas and water cannons, Liow ordered the probe 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 directly into the hospital.

The MCA deputy president had initially agreed with the hospital but then ordered the probe, stating that patient security and hospital safety were paramount.

Pua, Liew, Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching and Zairil Khir Johari, the political secretary to the DAP’s secretary general, had offered themselves as witnesses to the Health Ministry, which Liow had accepted and forwarded to the committee.

But Pua said he received a call from Bukit Aman on August 5, asking him to record his statement on the Tung Shin incident and to “bring along the other three.”

On the same day, the Health Ministry wrote to him asking him to co-operate in the “inquiry and investigation,” which the letter said was now being done with the police.

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-solider died during chaotic scenes in the capital.

However, they 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.

Federal police internal security and public order director Datuk Salleh Mat Rashid said that shots were only fired “nearby” the hospital compound on July 9, and speculated that the wind caused by the rain probably caused the tear gas and water cannons to enter the hospital compound.

However this statement flies in the face of various video clips uploaded on the YouTube video-sharing site showing water cannons and tear gas fired into the hospital.
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