Malaysia's police chief has said that he regrets an incident in which a doctor was assaulted by policemen after being mistaken for a robber, but said he will not apologise for his men carrying out their duties.
"No, There will be no official apology from us. We were just doing our duty, but I regret what happened, but there is no apology from us," Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar, told reporters at the police training centre in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (20 October).
Khalid insisted that the police have a duty to act against armed suspects who endanger people's lives and that officers had to move fast.
"So what you expect us to do? Come politely sir? No. We have our ways to handle criminals, so that will be done," he said.
He told reporters that an elite police team had been tipped off and were moving in on a gang of robbery suspects in a public area outside the Serdang Hospital when the incident took place on 7 October 2016.
Police ordered everyone to 'stay put'. However, a commotion broke out when some people started running and police spotted some of the suspected robbers and moved to tackle them to the ground.
"And he ran you know, hastily and we gave him chase and he fell down, and the rest I think you know what happened," Khalid said. The doctor who was mistaken for a robbery suspect was allegedly tackled by police to the ground.
"So that was actually what happened. So I think you know, if you got nothing to do with any police case, when the police tell you to stay put, don't run. You should stay put. You are a doctor, so I'm sure you understand language," he added.
Dr Thanendran Renganathan, who was on his lunch break when the incident took place, claimed that he was tackled to the ground, handcuffed and assaulted by armed and heavily masked police officers even after he told them that he was a doctor and had his hospital identification tag on him. He was attired in his medical coat and had a stethoscope dangling around his neck.
Thanendran claimed that he was interrogated by police for three hours over alleged links to the robber gang and was refused treatment for injuries sustained in the scuffle with the police.
Doctors association slam police action
The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia slammed the police for their actions, Malayisa Kini reports. It asked: "When a group of fully armed men in black without identification run towards us we are to just stand our ground? It takes an extremely brave or rather an extremely foolish man to do so."
While the association said it appreciated the work carried out by the police, "it still does not justify the assault of any citizen who is in custody and handcuffed. And especially after he identified himself as a medical personnel working in the adjacent hospital."