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Speech (Part 1) by Lim Kit Siang at the Suaram forum "IGP Bertukar: Institusi Polis Berubah?" held at KL/Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Thursday, 14th October 2010 at 8 pm: 

Every day for past 10 years, more than 3 persons missing who cannot be located or 40% of missing persons reported to police since 2000 as compared to statistics of over 99% of missing persons located by Australian Police

The answer to the issue posed in the topic in tonight’s forum is quite a foregone conclusion.

Two questions answered in Parliament this week are most pertinent in throwing light on public perceptions and confidence in the police system in the country.

On the first day of Parliament on Monday on Oct. 11, in reply to my question, the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein defended the police force against criticisms of inaction in the murder case of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others, denying that past reports lodged on the main suspects in the murder were neglected.

Hishammuddin said six police reports had been lodged against the two lawyer-brother suspects between 2005 and 2010 – five involved fraud and one involved a missing person report. Investigation into three of the six cases have been wrapped up while one of the cases is undergoing trial.

Accusing me of being “selective” in picking out certain cases only, Hishammuddin claimed that statistics showed that the police had done a great job as betweem 2000 to 2010, the police have solved 21,344 out of 35,473 missing persons cases.

I have checked the Internet and I have here a report about missing person statistics for Australia. Over 30,000 people are reported missing in Australia each year and its statistics show that less than one per cent of missing persons in Australia are not located while over 99 per cent of missing persons are located with –

  • 86% being located within one week;

  • 7% being located between 8 and 31 days;

  • 6% being located after one month.

What is the position in Malaysia?

Hishammuddin seemed to be very proud in Parliament on Monday with statistics that showed that only 60% of reported missing persons had been solved in the past 10 years, i.e. 21,344 out of 35,473 missing persons cases, completely oblivious to the 40% unresolved missing persons cases amounting to 14,129 cases.

This works out to more than three persons missing a day who cannot be located happening every day for the past 10 years – which is a clearly a most serious and even scandalous situation reflecting poorly on the law-and-order system in the country, but which have not even twitched the conscience of the Home Minister!

Where have 14,129 people, or more than three persons a day, disappeared to in the past 10 years? Why have the police failed to sound the alarm about the gravity of this problem?

This is a crying shame and the Home Minister should make a ministerial statement in Parliament on what the police and the government proposes to do to deal with this scandalous state of affairs.

When in my supplementary question I expressed dissatisfaction with his answer, saying public confidence in the police force and its professionalism as well as Malaysia’s image and international competitiveness had been adversely affected and that if all missing person reports had been taken seriously and resolved sooner, the mass murders of Sosilawati and three others could have been avoided, Hishammuddin warned against “sensationalizing” matters.

But Hishammuddin conspicuously ignored the fact that it was the new Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar himself who had publicly admitted that the Sosilawati mass murders cases could have been prevented if fast action, including proper investigation, had been conducted over earlier reports of missing persons – although I specifically pointed out this fact to Hishammuddin in my supplementary question.

The second question was Hishammuddin’s reply to Penang Chief Minister and DAP MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng that the Home Ministry will not investigate allegations by the former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan that that there is “third-party interference” in police work.

Answering Guan Eng who had asked for the results of the inquiry into the former IGP’s allegations and what actions would be taken against Musa in the event his claims were proven to be false, Hishammuddin replied without giving any reasons that the Home Ministry “does not intend to take action on the claims”.

Just before retiring as IGP, Musa hit out at “excessive interference from third parties” against the police force, zeroing in particular on the Home Ministry, with the specific advice to police officers and personnel not to be “yes men” or the entire force would “rot and collapse”.

This was a very serious allegation and Musa had clearly failed in his duties as IGP when he did not lodge official reports to initiate investigations to halt such “excessive interference” with the police.

In fact, I had at the time proposed that it was not too late for Musa to be suspended as IGP (as his term of IGP had a few more days to run) with his honourable discharge subject to full investigations into his dereliction of duties as IGP as well as serious allegations of corruption and abuses of power which have been made against him – but Hishammuddin did nothing.

Musa was of course the last person to protest against “excessive interference” with the police when he was foremost in blocking the implementation of the key recommendation of the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission of Inquiry for the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) – at one stage even threatening police revolt against the elected government of the day.

On another occasion, Musa threatened to call police off the streets and not to enforce the law in retaliation against the firestorm of public outrage at the trigger-happy police killing of 14-year-old Form III student Aminulrasyid Hamzah some 100 metres from his Shah Alam house in April this year.

This is gross insubordination on Musa’s part against the Malaysian people who should be the true “bosses” of the police force.

In actual fact, when Musa was IGP, the police force witnessed a further deterioration of the police “rot and collapse”.

Having a new IGP will not bring about any meaningful changes in the police system to restore national and international confidence unless there is a transformation and break from the colonial past mentality which regarded the paramount duty of police as that of protector of the powers-that-be to embrace democratic policing to protect the people and not the regime in power.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) 2005 report on “Police Accountability: Too Important to Neglect, Too Urgent to Delay” has rightly stressed:

“Democratic nations need democratic policing. Democratic policing is based on the idea the police are protectors of the rights of citizens and the rule of law, while ensuring the safety and security of all equally. It rejects any resemblance to the regime policing of colonial times. Colonial style policing was based on the idea of police as protectors of a government foreign to the people.”

As the report said, “Increasingly, the fundamental of policing is seen as being the protection and vindication of the human rights of all.”

For the Malaysian police, which has seen a collapse of public confidence in its institutional independence, professionalism and integrity as confirmed by the 2005 Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission of Inquiry, the first step to police institutional transformation must be its adoption of a new police ethos, vision and mission by embracing democratic policing as one of its transformational challenges.

A police committed to democratic policing will not blindly act as the instruments of the regime in power to harass and oppress the Opposition and legitimate dissent in the country, and Malaysia would be would have been spared police abuses of power represented by the arrest of cartoonist Zunar, police questioning of PKR MP for Lembah Pantai Nurrul Izzah for sedition, DAP MP for Serdang Teoh Nie Ching for her surau visit and the chair of tonight’s forum Latheefa Koya.

The Police should not apply double standards – harassing leaders of the opposition and dissent whenever police reports are lodged, while ignoring police reports lodged against the powers-that-be.

I have asked a question in the current meeting of Parliament on the number of police reports which have been lodged against Utusan Malaysia since April 2009 and the results of police action or inaction. Let us wait for the answer.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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