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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 29th January 2009: 

Let Kugan not die in vain the entire Cabinet should resign if it could not agree to Royal Commission of Inquiry into Kugan's death and to present IPCMC Bill to Parliament next month

A. Kugan would not have died in police custody if the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) had been operational since May 2006 as recommended by the Police Royal Commission headed by former Chief Justice Tun Dzaiddin and former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar.

If the IPCMC, the key proposal of the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission to transform the Malaysian police force into an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to discharge its three core functions to keep crime low, eradicate corruption in the police force and uphold human rights had been set up in accordance with the timeline as proposed, a new mindset and culture of responsibility, accountability and professionalism would have been disseminated and developed in the police force in the past 30 months and saved the life of Kugan.

As it is, even the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar does not have this requisite mindset that he could come out with his latest howler, when he said that "the people should not regard criminals as heroes and the police who enforce the law as demons".

This statement, as outrageous as his previous howler when he said last September that the Sin Chew senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng had been detained under the infamous Internal Security Act for her personal safety, is strong testimony that Hamid is not capable of being a reformist Home Minister to undertake long-needed and far-reaching police reforms.

Malaysians, like people all over the world, do not regard criminals as heroes and the police as demons but when a Minister responsible for police makes a shocking statement of this nature, it reflects that something has gone very wrong both with the police force and the Home Minister with regard to the most basic of government duties to keep the people safe and to uphold law and order.

As a lawyer and Home Minister, Hamid cannot presume that Kugan is a criminal as it must be left to the courts to decide whether Kugan was guilty of the crimes alleged against him.

Even if Kugan was guilty of the crimes alleged, the police cannot take the law into its own hands and continue to pile up the shocking statistics of deaths in police custody.

Although the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has reclassified Kugan's death as murder, sent back police investigations and ordered a more thorough probe, as well as demanding to see the second post-mortem conducted by the University of Malaya Medical Centre, the police conduct and the Home Minister's attitude had gravely undermined public confidence in the independence and professionalism of police investigations into Kugan's death.

There can be no alternative to a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Kugan's death in police custody, as well as the police and the Home Minister's responses to the events after Kugan's death.

Kugan's death in police custody also marks the abysmal and final failure of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's reform programme, standing out as a tragic symbol of the pathetic end of his pledge for police reforms in particular and his reform agenda for the larger picture.

The Cabinet must rise to the occasion to take two decisions:

  • Set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Kugan's death in police custody and the immediate events after; and
  • Belated acceptance of the Police Royal Commission's key recommendation for the establishment of the IPCMC by ensuring that an IPCMC is presented to next month's Parliament.

Let Kugan not die in vain. It is time that the entire Cabinet take a stand on a matter of principle and to resign en bloc if it could not agree to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Kugan's death and to present an IPCMC Bill to Parliament for passage next month.

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



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