“Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions, Police Accountability”
The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police (the “Royal Commission”), established in 2004 by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, had raised serious concerns about police abuses. The Royal Commission received over 900 complaints of abuse including deaths in custody, physical and psychological abuse of detainees, misuse of administrative detention laws, abuse of power, and systematic lack of accountability and transparency.
In November 2005, the Royal Commission issued its report entitled “Royal Commission Report For Police Reform: Challenges and Recommendations” containing 125 recommendations, including that the government amend relevant laws to make them comply with international human rights standards, and take steps to eradicate corruption, enhance investigative policing, and improve police support and maintenance through measures such as better housing and salaries for the police. In order to systematically address the lack of accountability for abuses, the Royal Commission recommended the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to investigate police malfeasance and take disciplinary measures.
The Royal Commission’s Chairman Tun Mohammed Dzaiddin bin Haji Abdullah said in his foreword:
“The agenda for reform that my Commission is proposing is an enormous and comprehensive one. The process of change will be long and arduous. To successfully carry it through will require strong and inspired leadership. There will also have to be strong and sustained political will on the part of the government, and the willingness to allocate the necessary resources, no doubt prudently and spread over time.”
The establishment of the Police Commission was seen as (then) Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s positive response to public concerns over reports of human rights violations, abuse of power and corruption by members of the Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM – i.e. the Royal Malaysia Police).
In announcing the formation of the Police Commission, the Prime Minister said:
“… the Royal Malaysia Police, as a team that engages with the public, has to be knowledgeable about human rights in the discharge of duties and in dealing with the public. Issues such as police violence, unsatisfactory service, corruption and other negative issues must be eradicated.” – former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Ten years later, Malaysia is far from witnessing a transformed police force. Deaths in custody and corruption are reflections of the PDRM. Public perception of PDRM has deteriorated tremendously. A survey by Amnesty International shows how Malaysians prefer not to trust the police if detained under their custody.
Topping off this troublesome scenario is the support from a member of cabinet for police shooting without warning.
In early June 2015, an exposé was published in respect of a 10-year investigation by the Special Branch unit which revealed that 80% of enforcement and security officials at the border are corrupt. How many of them involved were part of PDRM? Had they not been corrupt, would we have found ‘prison camps’ at Wang Kelian and Lubuk Sireh? Some villagers claim to have stumbled upon foreigners, weak and hungry, unable to carry themselves. These villagers would help them and then call the police to hand them over. How can the police now claim that they were not privy to the camps? Had they been genuine and responsible, would they not have found the camps years ahead?
If one were to read the Human Rights Watch report on custodial deaths “No Answers, No Apology”, one would be able to observe a similar pattern of explanation from the police on how the victims had a parang and was running towards the police and they fired in self defence.
What was more disappointing is that no thorough investigations were carried out in any of those cases. Some victims shot were as young as 15. Remember Aminulrasyid?
Related Articles on the civil suit for wrongful death filed by Aminulrasyid’s family
- Police corporal admits he shouldn’t have shot at car driven by Aminulrasyid [8 Jul 2015]
- 22 bullet holes found in car driven by teenager shot dead by police [6 Jul 2015]
- Aminulrasyid case postponed after no-show from witness [5 May 2015]
- Fear drove schoolboy on even after cops opened fire, court told [10 Mar 2015]
- Driving without licence no excuse for cops to open fire, dead teen’s mum tells court [9 Mar 2015]
- Aminulrasyid’s kin, Putrajaya to settle civil suit over shooting out of court [25 Feb 2015]
Forum on Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions – Police Accountability in Malaysia
On 30 May 2015, HAKAM and the Malaysian Bar Council Task Force on Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission co-organised a forum entitled “Rogue Cops: Workable Solutions – Police Accountability in Malaysia” to explore concerns over fresh reports of human rights violations by PDRM.
The forum was held at the Raja Aziz Auditorium in Kuala Lumpur. HAKAM and the Bar Council Task Force on the IPCMC saw it fit to resuscitate the findings of the Royal Commission. One of the major proposals made by the commission is for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
Former Chief Justice Tun Mohammed Dzaiddin bin Haji Abdullah – who also chaired the earlier-mentioned Royal Commission – said, in no uncertain terms, in his keynote address at this Forum:
“… we must, collectively, accept nothing less than a zero-tolerance approach to death in police custody. It is a mark of a civilised society that those who flagrantly abuse the power and trust vested in them be made to face the consequences of their actions. A police force who are committed beyond doubt to preserving the rule of law should not be a debateable notion; we should not have to compromise when asking for the safeguards to protect what is enshrined in the Federal Constitution – the right to life. I call for the creation of the IPCMC, or at the bare minimum reform of the EAIC. For the overhaul of police practices, and amendment to the current Lockup Rules. Deaths in police custody should incite national outrage in all cases, not only a select few. The current standard should be one of intolerance to any and all police violations of our basic human rights.“
Panellists who contributed their thoughts, perspectives and experience – as as fodder for discussion – were:-
- Tan Sri Zaman Khan Rahim Khan, Former Director General of Prisons, Malaysia; former police commissioner / Federal CID Chief;
- Leong May Chan, Commissioner, Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC);
- Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, Co-Chairperson, Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC;
- Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Secretary General, Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM);
- Sharmini Darshini, Executive Director, Amnesty International Malaysia; and
- Dato’ Sri Sanjeevan R, Chairman, MyWatch
The Forum was moderated by Firdaus Husni, a member of the Bar and a member of the Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC.
A report on the Forum is published at this link.
The Forum also garnered significant media coverage as well as reaction from Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (who incidentally, had declined the organisers’ invitation to headline the panel):-
- Ex-CJ’s remarks on cops ‘off the mark’, says IGP [4 Jun 2015]
- IGP: Police are not above the law [4 Jun 2015]
- Ex-CJ: Shifting police culture towards human rights a mammoth task [1 Jun 2015]
- EAIC not enough to check police, critics say after latest custodial death [31 May 2015]
- Integrity body grilled for failing to curb custodial deaths [30 May 2015]
- Ex-CJ: Death in custody caused by cops’ disregard for human rights [30 May 2015]
- Who says police need report to probe into crime, asks ex-top cop [30 May 2015]
- Siapa kata perlu laporan polis siasat jenayah, soal Zaman Khan [30 May 2015]
- Four years and 1,000 complaints later, EAIC says nobody prosecuted yet [30 May 2015]
- Bar Council and HAKAM renew calls for commission to probe police misconduct [29 May 2015]
Some Backgrounders & Related Articles
- Ugutan rogol terhadap tahanan bukti polis tidak serius! – Suaram [22 Mei 2015]
- Police threatened to rape me and sell video, says May 1 rally detainee [12 May 2015]
- Don’t question me, IGP tells Bar Chief on claims of double standards [8 May 2015]
- Bar Council Press Release | Right to Peaceful Assembly Rendered Illusory by Arbitrary Arrests and Oppressive Remand Orders [7 May 2015]
- Why highlighting corruption seditious, watchdog questions May Day arrests [3 May 2015]
- Opposition leaders, activists detained 10 hours, questioned for 10 minutes [3 May 2015]
- HAKAM Statement: Arrest of HAKAM President & Others [2 May 2015]
- HAKAM Statement: Arrest of HAKAM President & Others [1 May 2015]
- College girl claims raped, extorted and blackmailed by cop [2 Feb 2015]
- Will IGP now support immediate IPCMC? [25 Oct 2014]
- Anything short of IPCMC is an eyewash [24 Sep 2014]
- Bar Council reiterates govt to establish IPCMC [16 Aug 2014]
- Almost a decade on, lawyers continue push for IPCMC [16 Aug 2014]
- BFM InFocus: No answers, no apology [4 Apr 2014]
- EAIC a gross failure, says HRW [2 Apr 2014]
- Human Rights Watch report: No Answers, No Apologies – Police Abuses and Accountability in Malaysia [1 Apr 2014]
- IPCMC perlu demi mengembalikan martabt dan kepercayaan awam terhadap pasukan keselamatan [31 Jul 2013]
- Police reject IPCMC, again [16 July 2013]
- ‘IPCMC would treat police worse than criminals’ [11 Jul 2013]
- Kementerian Dalam Negeri Kaji Cadangan Penubuhan Suruhanjaya Bebas Aduan & Salah Laku Polis [5 Jun 2013]
- Are top cops staging repeat revolt against IPCMC? [17 Jun 2013]
- Do we really need the IPCMC? ― Nicholas Chan [5 Jun 2013]
- Policing the Police
- MediaSelangorku – IPCMC
- Astro Awani – IPCMC
- Royal Commission Report For Police Reform: Challenges and Recommendations [17 Nov 2005]
And as of 1 July 2015, reports relevant to the issues of police misconduct and police accountability:
- IGP vows action after EAIC concludes Johor man’s 2014 custodial death was murder [4 Nov 2015]
- Weed out the rogue cops – Citizen Nades [3 Nov 2015]
- EAIC says Johor man’s 2014 death in custody was murder [30 Oct 2015]
- Citizen Nades – In breach of the Penal Code [8 Jul 2015]
- Six years on, family of slain Teoh Beng Hock travels to Sabah in pursuit of justice [8 Jul 2015]
- Rape threat victim frustrated by A-G’s inaction [3 Jul 2015]
- A-G applies to reopen custodial death inquest, 5 months after verdict [1 Jul 2015]