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Further erosion of public confidence in police professionalism and integrity seven months after Royal Police Commission of Inquiry Report
Speech at the Parliamentary Roundtable on Squatgate Scandal
Firstly, the worsening crisis of confidence in the police.
Asked by the press on Sunday why the police had not revealed the nationality of the woman in the police naked earsquat videoclip to avoid confusion, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi responded: “Do you think the people will believe the police in this situation. With all the reports in the media, there were no way for the people to believe the police. That is why, I suggested that an independent committee be set up to conduct an investigation.”
The Prime Minister is right that at such a police announcement would have very little public credibility – just as the claim by the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Noh Omar that he did not know about the victim’s nationality until the disclosure at the Commission of Inquiry on December 13 has very little public credibility.
The implications of such a crisis of credibility in the police and state institutions are very serious.
Firstly, it is proof of the failure of the Royal Police Commission to restore public confidence in the efficiency, professionalism and integrity of the police force and that its 125 recommendations would be implemented firmly and swiftly to transform the police force into a clean, incorruptible, professional, world-class police service.
Seven months after the submission of the report and recommendations of the Royal Police Commission, there should be greater public confidence in the police force, but from the Prime Minister’s own comment, police credibility has taken a sharper plunge instead of the reverse. Why is this so
This is a matter which should be the top priority of the Cabinet tomorrow, which should cut through the resistance and opposition of the police by taking the important policy decision to immediately implement the most important of the Royal Police Commission’s 125 recommendations – the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
Secondly, the Prime Minister is right that there would have been minimal public credibility about any police announcement about the nationality of the woman victim, but this can be no excuse for withholding vital information from Parliament, the Malaysian public and the Chinese government for 20 days with grave adverse consequences.
Parliament, the Malaysian public and the Chinese government should have been informed at the first available opportunity about the nationality of the victim, and to deal with the problem of credibility gap of the police, this could be one of the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry.
Contradictory statements have been made raising questions about when the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Home Affairs Minister Azmi Khalid and the Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar first learnt about the nationality of the woman and whether the police had withheld this vital information from them and these queries should be answered by a clear and full statement by the government.
Thirdly, the rampage by some Senators howling for the blood of Teresa Kok and even myself for the expose of the police naked earsquats videoclip, just because it has been established that the woman victim was not a Chinese national but a local Malay girl – as if such demeaning, degrading and humiliating treatment of woman detainees are not tolerable if the victim was a Chinese national or another foreigner but fully acceptable if the victims are local Malays or other Malaysian citizens.
Right-thinking Malaysians must condemn in the strongest terms possible such disgraceful attitude which regard Malaysians, whether Malay or other races, as lower class of human beings as compared to Chinese nationals or other foreigners in terms of respect for their dignity and human rights when detained in policy custody.
Fourthly, it is a matter of grave concern that the Commission of Inquiry had ignored the larger pattern of police disrespect of human rights of detainees in custody, as the outrage of MPs and Ministers when they first saw the videoclip was not solely because of the humiliation suffered by the woman victim, but because it was the tip of an iceberg of police abuses of detainees in custody.
The fourth term of reference of the Commission of Inquiry to “scrutinize the police’s standard operating procedure or rules pertaining to body searches in the arrest and detention of a person, and to make its recommendations” should be given greater attention, with the re-opening of the Commission of Inquiry to hold more public hearings into this important aspect.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman