NOV 22 — We need the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, or IPCMC, set up, stat.
I am not sure about the rest, but I have not forgotten about the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police Force which revealed that the police were brutal, inept and the most corrupt.
That was in 2005 during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure as prime minister and seven years later, we are still at square one.
I remembered the report by 20-year-old S. Ganesan who claimed he was beaten up and verbally abused by the police after running a road block. Also not forgotten were the reports lodged by the female members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia who were detained and made to undress in the presence of male police officers.
While the nation is still reeling from the death of 15-year-old Aminulrasyih Amzah in Shah Alam in April 2010; the fatal shooting of Mohd Shaml Hafiz Shafie and Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah in Glenmarie in November 2011 and 26-year-old D. Dinesh who was gunned down in Ampang in August this year, the police are now in the spotlight again for allegedly raping an Indonesian woman under their custody in Penang.
With regards to the latter, I cannot help but wonder how many other such cases could have gone unreported? Such cases rarely exist in isolation and are usually the tip of the iceberg.
Police officers are supposed to uphold and maintain the law. They do not have the luxury to interpret it, nor the authority to determine who is guilty or innocent. They wield tremendous power which without restraint, discipline, and monitoring will render them no better than thugs in uniforms who are employed by the taxpayers.
The crimes they commit, therefore, no matter how small are heinously multiplied a hundred times over simply because of who they are.
Be that as it may, it was heartening to note that the police have taken immediate action against their own. But the question is, is that enough to prevent a recurrence? Was the alleged rape incident in Penang an isolated case, or just the tip of the iceberg?
No. I do not question the police’s integrity and honesty which is abundant for all to see when investigating their own, but merely saying that we should not overlook their human side which, like anyone else’s, is susceptible to temptation, bias and prejudice.
If the government is serious about reforming the police force, they should set this up immediately. There is nothing to lose by having an independent body to monitor the forces’ conduct. Meeting their annual KPIs does not mean we no longer need a monitoring body to oversee them. In fact setting one up will ensure the road map towards an excellent, disciplined force that could be the pride and joy of Malaysians.
I understand their reservations. Who in their right mind will want a monitoring body breathing down their neck, which could potentially lead to more paperwork, procedures, following protocols, etc?
While we understand their resistance, our men in blue must also realise that at the end of the day, they are answerable to us — the rakyat. We must feel safe before believing that they have achieve their target KPIs and are living up to their mottos and slogans.
And if they are serious about gaining our respect, and cement their role as our protector in an ever progressive, modern and democratic Malaysia, they have no choice but to be treated as any other professional who requires an independent party to oversee their conduct.
While the present government works hard to realise the 1 Malaysia hotline, 1 Malaysia menu, the AES, they should also remember that Malaysia ratifies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) under Article 3 which says “Everyone has the right to life, to be free and to feel safe.”
The police have killed 298 people since 2007, according to our ever-alert home minister. I wonder how many are parang-wielding suspects, and how many are not? How many of the deaths were due to “self defence”, how many are not?
George Washington once said: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”
Tick tock, Mr Prime Minister.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.