Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hanif panel hit by withdrawals at outset

Two members of Putrajaya’s controversial Bersih investigative panel have rejected their appointments, just as the inquiry begins its probe on violence during Bersih 3.0.

Tun Hanif Omar, who was named recently as the head of a six-man independent panel, said that former Chief Judge of Borneo Tan Sri Steve Shim and Petronas corporate affairs senior general manager Datuk Medan Abdullah have withdrawn from the panel.

“Tan Sri Steve Shim has rejected the appointment on health reasons. Datuk Medan Abdullah has cited the burdens of his current job,” Hanif told reporters today.

“The government will decide on replacements in the nearest time,” he added.

The other remaining members of the panel are: Sinar Harian managing director Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacub; legal adviser to Media Chinese International Liew Peng Chuan and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia psychology Prof Dr Rozmi Ismail.

Putrajaya’s panel has continued to run up against problems since it was announced last month.

Last week, Bersih and the Bar Council have refused to participate in the so-called “Hanif panel” investigating police violence in the April 28 rally for electoral reforms, saying the probe would be “seriously flawed” under former inspector-general of police Hanif’s chairmanship.

The Bar Council has said it was pointless to do so when the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is already conducting its own probe.

“We do not see the purpose to duplicate the process... we already said earlier that we would participate in Suhakam’s inquiry. There is no public purpose served by duplicating the enquiry process,” council vice-president Christopher Leong told The Malaysian Insider when contacted last week.

He said the council was adamant that Hanif should be disqualified from the post of the panel’s chairman as the latter had already previously indicated his anti-Bersih views.

Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan repeated the council’s view that Hanif’s involvement in the panel, following the latter’s criticism of Bersih 3.0 protesters as communist sympathisers, would affect the impartiality of the investigation.

But Hanif has since insisted his panel will arrange a meeting with the Bar Council over its probe on last month’s rally.

“The panel welcomes the Bar Council to meet the panel for the good of the country, and will organise (a meet),” Hanif told reporters.

When asked to comment on Leong’s remarks, Hanif replied, “That is up to them.”

“They say that even though I am not supposed to become chairman they are prepared to meet me and the panel.”

Following the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, Hanif alleged that communist sympathisers had participated in the event, agreeing with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the demonstration was an attempt to oust the present government.

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