KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — A group of doctors said today they were prepared to provide sworn affidavits to say that police had fired tear gas and chemical-laced water into the compounds of the Tung Shin and Chinese Maternity Hospitals during the Bersih rally last Saturday.
In a statement tonight, 11 doctors, including some who were at the scene, said they were outraged at the actions of the police in firing tear gas and water cannons without scant regard for the safety of patients and doctors.
“We, the undersigned doctors, wish not to enter into the polemics of the Bersih 2.0 march on 9th July 2011 but would like to clarify the inconvenient truth.
“We are outraged at the incidents, and the subsequent responses from the authorities, to the events where tear gas and chemical-laced water were shot into the compounds of the Tung Shin and Chinese Maternity Hospitals, two adjacent buildings along Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, with scant regard for the safety of patients, staff and the general public who were at the buildings that afternoon,” the doctors said.
Their statement contradicts that of Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai who had denied the police had shot into the hospital compounds, claiming instead that the wind had blown the gas in.
Liow also said that shots from the water cannons had only brushed the edges of the hospital walls.
The police have also denied shooting directly into the hospital compounds after protesters had sought refuge there.
The statement tonight by the senior doctors is likely to embarrass the authorities who have claimed minimal force was used.
“Hospitals are considered as safe sanctuaries for all, even during wartime, but these consecrated places of refuge and protection were violated by the defence forces that afternoon. Police even entered the buildings in search of some of these peaceful marchers.
“What was most frightening and witnessed by many was the unprovoked violent assault within the hospital compounds and the apprehension of several protesters who had merely run into the hospitals to seek shelter from the tear gas and the water cannons.
“It is repulsive that the authorities entrusted with policing the nation and protecting the weak and needy, have shamelessly denied publicly, the occurrence of these incidents in spite of countless photo/video and eyewitness accounts of what was evident to all independent observers,” they said.
Yesterday, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, a former health minister, said the police had to fire tear gas near Tung Shin Hospital to protect its patients from Bersih 2.0 protesters who had sought refuge there.
The MCA president said the situation should be viewed “in totality”, pointing out that the police would be accused of not doing their job had they decided against dispersing the crowd of protesters that had run into the hospital.
Dr Chua also said it was difficult to determine what exactly transpired at the hospital on Saturday as it was hard to tell the whole story from the photos and videos that have emerged online since then.
The doctors who signed the statement refuting claims by Dr Chua, Liow and the police are:
Dr Ng Kwee Boon — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Datin Dr Low Paik See — Consultant Paediatrician
Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin — Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist
Dr Mazeni Alwi — Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist
Dr David Quek — Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Sheikh Johari Bux — Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Dr Steve Wong — Consultant Plastic Surgeon
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa — Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Dr Ng Swee Choon — Consultant Cardiologist
Dr Mary Cardosa — Consultant Anaesthesiologist
Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan — Consultant Chest Physician