#kerajaangagal75 – Arifai Tarawe acted rightly in withdrawing RM10 million suit against FMT

The outgoing Gombak police chief Arifai Tarawe acted rightly in withdrawing the RM10 million suit against FMT for such an action is consistent with the police claim that it has nothing to hide over A. Ganapathy’s death.

Arifai, who is due to be transferred to Bukit Aman's Integrity and Standards Compliance Department on June 21, should ensure that there will be an inquest into A. Ganapathy’s death in police custody.

In fact, Arifai should play a major role to transform the Royal Malaysia Police into a world-class police force by implementing the proposals of the Police Royal Commission 16 years ago especially to hold a public inquiry into every case of police death in custody.

Sixteen years ago in 2005, the Police Royal Commission headed by a former Chief Justice, Tun Dzaiddin and the longest-serving former IGP, Tun Hanif Omar, said in its report that it viewed with “grave concern the unacceptable high incidence of deaths in custody and the failure by the authorities to hold inquests before magistrates in most of the cases” and proposed that “inquiries must be held by a magistrate into all cases of death in custody within one month of receiving the report of death”.

Sixteen years later, the high incidence of deaths in custody is even more unacceptable.

Arifai should abolish the notion that police personnel are immune from prosecution for gross abuses of power, as Malaysia must be a nation where there is the rule of law.

I can understand Arifai’s upset feelings that his transfer had included background on Ganapathy’s case.

He said that the case and the subsequent death of S Sivabalan, who died about 70 minutes after he was arrested by Gombak police on May 20, had greatly affected the morale of his officers and family members.

He said no police officer wants any harm to come to any detainee, and he said again on record that the police did not harm any detainee under police custody.

He said having been in the public eye for years, he was used to criticism but he was really cut up when his children told him their friends said their father was a ‘bad guy’.

He said: “They know what their friends are saying isn’t true, but they still feel hurt, and as a father, I feel heartbroken seeing them sad.”

I can understand Arifai’s feelings, for this had happened to me, when I was detained for the first time under the Internal Security Act and was detained in Muar.

Guan Eng was in primary school in 1969 and was teased by his classmates as having a “bad” father, as no good person would be in detention.

But I am glad that Arifai is open to an inquest in Ganapathy’s case but such inquests should be institutionalised where every death in custody would require a public inquiry.

Deaths in custody must be viewed seriously by all the authorities concerned.

There has been another instance of custodial death – 21-year-old Surendran Shanker – and his family suspected there was foul play and injustice.

Only a public inquiry into all custodial deaths can give the families of the affected deceased in all such cases that justice had been done and there had been good governance.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri