It is totally bizarre – former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar's insistence to head the "independent advisory panel" into Bersih 3.0 violence when he should have recused himself and even advised the other panel members to withdraw or better still, the Cabinet should have scrapped the panel altogether and given full support to the Suhakam public inquiry into the human rights violations at the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.
The very fact that the Hanif panel had cancelled a earlier planned press conference after its first meeting today and decided instead to merely release a media statement is eloquent proof that Hanif and the panel members are fully aware that they do not enjoy public confidence that they will be able to act fairly, independently and impartially in the inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 violence, regardless of whether the victims were police personnel, media representatives or peaceful protestors.
For the past month, the government had launched a high-level campaign to vilify and demonise Bersih 3.0 and Pakatan Rakyat and the Hanif panel is regarded as an key part of this "demonization" campaign.
Hanif himself played an important role in the demonization campaign from the very beginning when he gave blind and unthinking support to the wild allegation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Bersih 3.0 rally was an attempted coup d'etat by the Opposition to topple the government.
Adding insult to injury, Hanif even said he identified pro-communist individuals at Bersih 3.0 from demonstrations in the 1970s and spoke to the media on the use of provocateurs and children in the Bersih 3.0 rally as "tactics of the communists".
How can Hanif live down these highly prejudicial views on Bersih 3.0 unless he is going to retract and repudiate them?
In defending his appointment and reiterating today that his track record has proven that he acts with integrity, Hanif has missed the point altogether.
If Hanif refuses to retract and repudiate what he had said about Bersih 3.0, he should be appearing as a "star witness" before any Bersih 3.0 probe to substantiate his highly prejudicial views instead of heading a panel to find out what actually happened on Bersih 3.0.
If no evidence is found in the probe, is Hanif prepared to declare publicly that both the Prime Minister and he himself were wrong in alleging that Bersih 3.0 rally was an attempted coup d'etat by the Opposition to topple the government?
Now with the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir taking the demonization campaign to a new pitch with his preposterous allegation that the Bersih 3.0 rally was a "preparation" and "warm-up" by Pakatan Rakyat for violent demonstrations to reject the results of the 13th general election should the opposition fail to win it, public distrust and rejection of the Hanif panel is even stronger.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak has often quoted what he said when he became Prime Minister three years ago, that "the era the government knows best is over".
This is a test whether he would walk his talk and accept that Malaysians do not want a Hanif panel.
Najib should act decisively to convince Malaysians that the government is serious and sincere in wanting a credible, impartial and comprehensive inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 violence, where there will be no cover-up or demonization campaign in the form of an inquiry, by dissolving the Hanif panel and pledging full government support to the Suhakam public inquiry into Bersih 3.0.
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