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on May 10, 2012

May 10: A United Nations official has denied that the world body was in the business of approving weapons such as tear gas, following a claim by the Malaysian government that teargas used on Bersih 3.0 protesters last months was "UN-approved".

Lin says journalists should have consulted the UN before any report related to the body is published [Pic source: Penang Monthly]

“UN does not set international standards on different kinds of irritants, nor has the UN approved ‘CS Gas’ as a ‘riot control’ agent," said Dr Lin Mui Kiang, the United Nations coordination specialist for Malaysia.

She was referring to a report by MCA-controlled daily The Star, quoting Logistics Department (Weaponry) assistant chief director Syed Mustafa Raja Syed Nordin as defending the use of tear gas grenades, canisters, eye irritants and pepper spray to disperse peaceful protesters.

Mustafa had claimed that the weapons complied “international standards set by United Nations”, arguing that they were also used by the United States, Canada and Switzerland.

Lamenting the lack of professionalism by Malaysian mainstream paper and public officials, Lin expressed regret that the UN was not consulted before The Star decided to headline the news, which she said contained "serious inaccuracies".

She reminded that even in the event where use of force and firearms was unavoidable, law enforcers should exercise restraint, minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.

“We at the United Nations appeal to all journalists to correctly and accurately research and report all matters and procedures related to the UN. We believe that such professionalism should also extend to all public officials,” Lin said.

Some 200,000 people gathered for the Bersih 3.0 rally in several parts of the capital on April 28, calling for urgent electoral reforms be carried out before the next general election. More than 500 protesters were arrested and scores injured, including policemen and journalists.

The Barisan Nasional government earlier snubbed an offer by United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank William La Rue, to objectively investigate the incidents during the rally. Instead, it appointed former police chief Hanif Omar to head its 'independent panel'. - harakahdaily



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