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Shaving bald 11 mostly senior citizens in Kajang – mark of “new police respect” for human rights?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya
, Friday): There can be no excuse, justification or mitigation for the Chinese New Year police outrage in Kajang in shaving bald 11 mostly senior citizens after they  were arrested for gambling when they met up for supper, drinks and mahjong at a coffee-shop at Balakong on the second day of the Chinese New Year.

Such deliberate humiliation of members of the public is all the more deplorable when the Police had just announced that all 147 OCPDs in Malaysia will attend a mandatory human rights training seminar at the end of the month in line with the Royal Commission’s recommendations for sensitization of police officers on human rights.

Is the police’s high-handed action in shaving bald the  11 mostly senior citizens in Kajang to  mark a “new police respect” for human rights? 

The statement by the Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Noor Hakim that it was normal lock-up procedure to shave a detainee’s head - that the lock-up rules state that “rambut mesti di potong pendek-pendek” – and that the police would “continue with this procedure” is most disturbing.

Will there be more police outrages utterly contemptuous  and insensitive of human dignity and rights of Malaysians in the “new police respect” for human rights?

Many Malaysians must be asking whether this  is the first salvo of police retaliation against the Royal Commission Reports and recommendations for police accountability and good governance as well as respect for human dignity and rights.

There are more and more indications that the Police are resisting and opposing the Royal Commission Reports and recommendations, in particular the most important proposal  on the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

This is the message of  the front-page headline story “Polis tolak suruhanjaya – Alasan sudah ada empat bada serupa pantau PDRM”  in Utusan Malaysia today, which is significant for three reasons:

  • the second time within a week that it is reported on the Utusan Malaysia front-page about police resistance and opposition to the establishment of an external oversight agency on police misconduct, corruption and criminality spearheaded by three police organizations, Persatuan Pegawai Kanan Polis Cawangan Inspektor (PPKPCI), Persatuan Pegawai Kanan Polis Cawangan yang Diwartakan (PPKPCW) dan Persatuan Polis Pangkat Rendah (PPPR).
  • A top police officer, the Bukit Aman Management Director Comm Datuk Kamaruddin Ali spelling out the objections of the three police organizations to the establishment of the IPCMC – that there are already four bodies which are exercising police oversight functions, viz: the police disciplinary division, the Police Force Commission headed by the Prime Minister, Datuk  Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the Internal Security Minister, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and the Public Complaints Bureau (BPA).
  • The implication that the objections of the three police organizations have the support of the highest level of the police leadership.

The contention that the four existing police oversight mechanisms are adequate does not hold any water or there would be no need for the establishment of a Royal Police Commission in the first place.

The reason given by the Royal Commission for its proposal for ICPMC remains unchallenged by the three police organizations, viz: “The establishment of an external oversight agency for PDRM would be a profoundly important development in the governance of the important organization. It will mark a quantum step forward in enhancing accountability and help restore and sustain the confidence of the people and private sector in PDRM”.

If the Prime Minister backs off now from establishing the ICPMC, after announcing it 12 days ago on 24th January 2006, it would not only plunge public confidence in the police to a new low, but even worse, the Abdullah premiership as well!

Instead of trying to scuttle the ICPMC, the Police leadership should set the example of endorsement as well as mobilizing  the support of the 100,000-strong PDRM for police reforms.

It should not just be receiving the representations from the three police organizations but should be explaining to them the rationale for the Royal Commission recommendations. 

Did the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Bakri Omar and his deputy,  Datuk Seri Musa Hassan explained to the three police organizations at their meeting why they support the Prime Minister in the  establishment of the ICPMC?

I agree with one sentiment expressed by the three police organizations that the police should not be singled out for reforms, but I do not agree that police reforms should be suspended until and unless similar reforms are undertaken in other enforcement agencies like customs and immigration.

The establishment of the IPCMC and the implementation of the 133 recommendation of the two Royal Police Commissions should not be held up, but reforms in all enforcement agencies and government departments must be embarked upon without any delay.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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