Lawyer Siti Kasim’s wrongful arrest and police abuse of powers have catapulted the issue of IPCMC to the forefront of agenda for institutional reforms in a New Malaysia

Lawyer Siti Kasim’s wrongful arrest and the police abuse of powers have catapulted the issue of Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to the forefront of the agenda for institutional reforms in New Malaysia.

Malaysians are not interested in any police-bashing as the police play a vital and essential role in any ordered and civilized society.

What they want is to institutionalise two fundamental rights which should be enjoyed by all Malaysians, regardless race, religion, rank or socio-economic status, viz:

  • The right to a crime-free, safe and secure environment to live, work and play; and
  • The right to greater police efficiency, accountability and transparency and meaningful public consultation and participation in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the policing agenda to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

The people want an effective and efficient police force, and will co-operate with the police to make the streets, public spaces and homes safe.

This is why the propsed IPCMC is important.

The IPCMC was the most important recommendation of the Police Royal Commission set up by the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the first flush of his premiership to transform a Malaysia with “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” into an advanced nation in all dimensions, especially good governance and government accountability and transparency.

The IPCMC was to restore public confidence in the police by eradicating police corruption, police misconduct and abuses of power!

However, we seemed to have regressed to the period before the establishment of the Police Royal Commission headed by the former Chief Justice, Tun Dzaiddin with former Inspector General of Police Tan Haniff Omar as Deputy Chairman when public confidence in the police was at an all-time low, with widespread complaints about police corruption, brutalities and indiscipline resulting in many deaths in police lock-ups.

All the horror stories of police abuses of power, brutality and even custodial deaths would have been checked and would not have happened if the IPCMC had been established as proposed by the Police Royal Commission more than a decade ago, as the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) which was formed instead is a toothless agency with neither powers, staffing nor funds to be an effective check on police misconduct and abuses of power.

The Police Royal Commission had rightly warned that its recommendations will fail to secure desired results “if the leadership in PDRM does not rise to the challenges and champions change in the service for its own benefit”.

It said: “Effective change management starts from the top. The role of leadership at all levels is absolutely vital in a command organization like PDRM. Leaders are role models. They should be incorruptible and take ownership of programmes to eradicate corruption in PDRM.”

What the policy-makers and the police leadership failed to do more than a decade to set up the IPCMC must be remedied now, so that Malaysia would have a world-class police force.

We must quickly rise above the present malaise, where public confidence in police is at an all-time low with impunity for gross police misconduct and indiscipline – like police custodial deaths, police brutalities and most recently, the outrageous police arrest of lawyer Siti Kasim.

The Pakatan Harapan Government should present a programme of institutional reforms when Parliament meets for the first time after the 14th General Elections in the middle of July, with the IPCMC high on the programme of institutional reforms.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Iskandar Puteri