KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Pakatan Rakyat is trying to burnish its credentials as a multiracial platform with DAP chairman Karpal Singh’s appointment as legal counsel for the family of dead schoolboy, Aminulrasyid Amzah.
Both Barisan Nasional and PR have been locked in a tussle over the past week to offer help as well as legal aid to Aminulrasyid’s family, with PR now seen victorious in that aspect after the family gave them the nod to represent their interests and concerns in court.
BN appears to be in a tough spot as public hatred and outcry towards the police have steadily risen since the 14-year old was shot dead on April 26.
The police have traditionally been associated with the BN federal government, and now, Umno is on the defensive and has demanded Karpal be dropped as lead counsel for the family, claiming his appointment was a “political farce” for PR to remain relevant in Selangor.
“The family should think carefully before engaging a politician as a lawyer to represent them. I believe that PR will be more involved in politics than justice. They will politicise it for their own gains. Look at what they did for the Kugan case and Teoh Beng Hock,” said former Selangor mentri besar-turned state opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Khir Toyo.
Karpal is also representing the family of dead DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock with his son Gobind Singh Deo, who is also working for the family of A. Kugan, who died in police custody in Jan 2009. All cases are coincidentally in Selangor, which is governed by PR.
The Umno man alleged that Karpal’s appointment was proof of PR’s intention to politicise the case of Aminul’s shooting by the police, and that this was “not the first time” they had done so.
He said that the family should instead appoint a lawyer who was free from political affiliation and encumbrances.
“The family should ask someone, a lawyer from an NGO, rather than engage a lawyer affiliated with a political party.”
Khir lauded the Home Ministry’s suggestion in setting up a panel for an inquest, adding that the government could also start up a fund to pay for the fees of an “independent” lawyer.
“The family should allow the government to set up the inquest. We sympathise with what has happened.
“Ini kes orang mati, please we shouldn’t bring politics into it,” said Khir.
Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad believes both BN as well as PR wanted “investigations to be carried out in a fair manner.”
Having said that, Shahrir told The Malaysian Insider that he did not think it was “necessary for any particular political personality to act as lawyer” on behalf of the family.
“It is up to the conscience of the lawyer involved. If he can perform his professional duty without any politicking, then there won’t be any cause for concern,” said the former Umno minister.
Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said he was not surprised Aminulrasyid’s family had wanted PR to represent them, as PR has painted itself as the voice of the downtrodden.
“PR has established themselves as spokespersons of the oppressed. If you can’t find justice in the state, go to PR,” claimed Wong.
But the academic stated that PR needed to “go beyond pointing fingers” at the police or even the Inspector-General of Police.
“More seriously, PR needs to move beyond this. Asking the IGP to resign is outdated. If they are serious, what they should do is to push for federalism, where the police force should not only be under the command of the federal government,” said the Monash University Sunway lecturer.
Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, another analyst, claimed PR’s involvement in the shooting of Aminulrasyid would only lead to more politicking, where PR would use Karpal’s position as the lawyer to give out a “different symbol.”
“Lawyers need to be politically-free. If he gets involved, another group might say that he’s (Karpal) taking advantage of the situation for PR. From day one till now, this has become more and more politicised. It cannot be further politicised,” said the USM lecturer.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad maintains that the matter has never been a racial issue for PR, and that it was a question of rule of law and justice. He lashed out at Umno for spinning the issue, claiming that the Malay party’s desperation in portraying PR as opportunists only confirmed its narrow-mindedness.
“What Umno is trying to do here is to distort the issue, making it a racial one, because the victim is Malay. We see here a defensive Umno with their arguments that have no basis. The issue here is the excessive use of force by trigger-happy police,” said the PAS lawmaker.
Khalid had been responsible in accompanying the main witness, who was with Aminulrasyid in the car when he was shot, to the police station to provide his account over what happened.
Outrage over the shooting has also spread to cyberspace where Facebook groups both demanding justice for Aminulrasyid as well as “Kelab penyokong polis diraja Malaysia” (Malaysian Police supporter’s club) have been set up, each a day after the shooting took place.
The “We hate police cruelty-justice for Aminulrasyid” group has garnered over 60,000 fans while the police supporters’ club has over 5,000.
According to initial reports, the Form Three student was shot in the head when he tried to reverse his car into four policemen after a high-speed chase, just 100m from his home in Section 11 last Monday.
Police also reportedly shot the tyres of the Proton Iswara to stop the vehicle during the incident. A parang was also reportedly found in the car but this has been disputed by witnesses and the family.