Suaram sets up hotline for police abuse cases

Susan Loone
Apr 26, 11

Human rights NGO Suaram has launched a 24-hour hotline at 016-4015052 to respond to cases of police abuse after a study revealed there had been over 20 victims in Penang over the last three months.

Cases revealed by the study included those of five people being detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance and one related to death in police custody.

Penang Suaram coordinator Ong Jing Cheng (left) said that the case of death in police custody involved Ooh Joo Kia from Nibong Tebal, who died after seven hours in detention on Jan 6.

The report, titled 'Detainee dies of heart failure in lock-up', was published by the Malay Mail on the same day.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm Zahruddin Abdullah had said the police had classified the case as 'sudden death' as the deceased was found to be suffering from heart disease.

“The police have said that the death was not related to police action but this remains unclear without independent verification,” said Ong in Penang today.

“We need to speedily establish an independent police complaints and misconduct commission as proposed by many people over the years to ensure the independent monitoring of police and transparent accountability of the force,” he added.

Ong claimed that there had been five cases of detention without trial under the Emergency Ordinance reported in Penang, before and after the Chinese New Year celebrations this year.

He added that Suaram had strongly condemned the 1960 ordinance as “undemocratic” as it disrespected the citizens' right to a fair trial.

“The police should bring the five persons to court and present their evidence, and let the judge decide in a trial,” said Ong.

“Detaining them without trial is indeed unfair to the five persons,” he added.

'Request for RM10,000 bribe for person's release'
Still on the same theme, Ong revealed that three cases of police abuse involved detention by police personnel not in uniform, and one of them involved an alleged request for a bribe of RM10,000 for the detained person's release.

The incident was reported in Chinese-language daily Kwong Wah Jit Poh on Feb 11, but it is uncertain where the incident took place.

“According to MCA's former Padang Lallang assemblyperson Tan Teik Cheng in the report, an individual had filed a complaint that he was detained for five hours by five policemen who were out of uniform,” he said.

“The police then asked the person's girlfriend to hand over RM10,000 for the release of her boyfriend,” he added.

On Feb 21, Tan had reportedly said in the media that he had informed Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong about the matter.

The five policemen allegedly involved in the incident are believed to be under investigation, said Ong.

In a related development, Ong related another incident on Feb 13, where policemen from Bukit Aman had allegedly broken into a home to conduct an investigation.

A report was lodged by former Penang state exco member and MCA Berapit assemblyperson Lau Chiek Tuan, and the incident was reported in Kwong Wah Jit Poh on March 31, he added.

He also recounted an incident exposed by DAP leader and Seberang Perai municipal councillor Teog Seang Hooi, who reported that a woman was stopped by traffic police on March 31 near the Nibong Tebal Simpang Empat police station.

She claimed that the police had refused to listen to her explanation, but latter issued her a traffic summons.

“They treated her badly and issued a summons to her... she will not pay the penalty but is willing to go to court over the matter,” said Ong.

Meanwhile, Ong alleged that the police appear to have become a “political tool” in three cases involving arrests of protesters against the controversial novel Interlok used as a Form Five textbook.

On Jan 23, police arrested nine protesters in Tasek Gelugor, while on March 20, police broke up a forum organised by Hindu rights group Hindraf in Air Itam and Simpang, arresting six people in the process.

“The police have been used to prevent people from expressing their opinions,” said Ong.

“We believe that there are many cases which are yet to be exposed by the media, which is why we are launching the hotline to assist the public,” he added.