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Thread: Police: More deaths

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Police: More deaths

    Hisham on need for IPCMC: The question has been scripted.

    Hisham mum on IPCMC in wake of handcuff death

    By Boo Su-Lyn
    January 25, 2013
    Hishammuddin said the Kajang OCPD was not empowered to rule out investigations on Sugumaran’s death. — File pic

    PUTRAJAYA, Jan 25 ― Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein refused today to say if an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) should be formed, but did not rule out an independent investigation into the alleged lynching of a handcuffed security guard.Yesterday, eyewitnesses said that policemen had handcuffed 39-year-old C. Sugumaran before allegedly assaulting him fatally together with a mob of more than 20 near his house in Batu 12, Hulu Langat last Wednesday.

    Kajang OCPD ACP Abdul Rashid Abdul Wahabsaid yesterday that no police investigation would be launched into Sugumaran’s death as the post-mortem showed that the latter had died of a heart attack.

    But Hishammuddin today said Abdul Rashid was not authorised to make the decision,

    “That’s not for him to say. That’s for the higher authorities,” said Hishammuddin at a press conference here.

    “We will see what the investigation will reveal,” he added.

    When asked if an IPCMC should be set up in the light of recent alleged police killings and custodial deaths, Hishammuddin said: “That one all has been scripted. You’ve been asked to ask that question.”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Friday, 21 June 2013 14:26

    THE issue of the Government’s refusal to adopt the recommendation made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry of 2005 to set up an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is still alive – and gaining urgency these days.

    The IPCMC was envisioned as a body that would effectively oversee the conduct of the police force and, more importantly, reform the force itself. But because the police themselves objected to it – and of course they would – the Government chucked the recommendation aside.

    In April 2011, the Government set up instead the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), but this appears to be more of an eyewash than anything else.

    Its CEO, Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar, recently disclosed – with candour, one might add – that although it is tasked with investigating complaints of misconduct against 19 enforcement agencies, including the police, the EAIC has only one investigating officer. Imagine that!

    And consider, too, how such a small and apparently toothless body could possibly take on so large a force as the police! Not to mention that it also has to deal with the other enforcement agencies. Nor Afizah is reportedly not even sure if one of the EAIC’s post-investigation recommendations – to demote a police officer for misconduct – has been implemented!

    No wonder the 353 complaints the EAIC has hitherto received about the police have been relatively mild ones, mostly about police inaction on cases, premature closing of cases, and even one involving a policeman having an affair with someone else’s wife!

    Meanwhile, there have been no complaints to the EAIC about custodial deaths, perhaps for obvious reasons. Nor, as its CEO revealed, any of “a criminal element”. Yet two people have died in police custody these past few weeks – both allegedly from police brutality.

    N. Dharmendran was allegedly beaten to death on May 21 at the city police contingent headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

    In what now appears to have been an attempted cover-up, KL CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah initially announced that Dharmendran had died of breathing difficulties and a possible heart attack, but a subsequent autopsy found 52 injury marks on his body. Staples were found in his ears, indicating that they had been stapled. This led to a public outcry for action to be taken against his assailants.

    Faced with this outrage, and probably thinking of his Indian vote bank as well, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was compelled to take action. Three of the four policemen who interrogated Dharmendran while he was being detained have now been charged with murder. A fourth policeman who was involved has yet to be brought to court.

    The second death was that of P. Karuna Nithi, in the Tampin police station lock-up on June 1. The police told his family that he had died of hypoglycaemia, but an autopsy found that he had suffered 49 injuries. The strange thing is, he sustained these injuries over the course of only one day. And he was a lab technician who had been taken in because his wife reported him for domestic violence. He was not a criminal as such, so why was he brutally treated?

    Negri Sembilan police chief Datuk Osman Salleh has, however, claimed that no injuries were inflicted on Karuna and that he died of natural causes. And a post-mortem held at the Seremban Hospital concluded that he had died from “fatty change of the liver” rather than from the injuries, which the forensic consultant said “were inadequate to directly cause death”.

    If the post-mortem conclusion were right, the fact still remains that Karuna died in a police lock-up and injuries were found on him, which means that the police are still accountable for his death in one way or another. They certainly have to explain why the injuries were there.

    Why is the Government so afraid of setting up a commission that would be truly effective in keeping the police in line? From the year 2000 until now, about 220 people have died while being detained in police lock-ups.

    How many more custodial deaths must occur before the Government will be convinced that the police are not angels, and that the establishment of a body to oversee the force is a pressing need? Like the Government itself, the police are not above abusing their power. They need to be prevented from doing so by a watchdog body totally dedicated to the task, not an EAIC that has so much on its plate and so few personnel. And such puny powers.

    And yet a few days ago, Datuk Paul Low, the recently appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, announced that the Government would beef up the EAIC instead, including giving it “more resources” and possibly prosecution powers.

    “We are looking into it,” said Low, who has been much criticised by the public for having softened his stance against corruption after accepting the ministerial position, and for saying that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) need not be placed under Parliament because it is already doing its work “independently”.

    We only need to look at the little the MACC’s has done in probing allegations of land grabs and other corrupt practices perpetrated by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to doubt Low’s pronouncement.

    Along with beefing up the EAIC, the Government will also introduce in state capitals centralised lock-ups fitted with CCTV cameras in which interrogations of suspects will be conducted.

    This is to capture any act of torture committed by the police during interrogation. The Government will also set up a permanent coroner’s court in every state to deal with cases of deaths in custody.

    These two ideas may sound good on paper, but in reality, brutality can still be inflicted on detainees in other parts of the police lock-up, away from CCTV cameras. And what about police lock-ups in towns which will not have these facilities?

    As for the coroner’s court, who will be conducting investigations on police officers who are alleged to have committed brutality? If the investigators are fellow police officers, would they be fair and impartial? Would other officials involved in the hearing and conduct of the cases also be independent and impartial?

    Even BN’s coalition partner Gerakan doesn’t think centralised lock-ups and coroner’s courts are enough. Its vice-president A. Kohilan Pillay has come out to say that these measures are “senseless” without an oversight body like the IPCMC. “Ignoring calls for greater oversight will only aggravate the situation,” he asserted.

    The way it looks, especially with Malaysians having little trust in Najib’s government because of the numerous excuses it has been making and the untruths it has allegedly been telling, and with Malaysians having almost no confidence left in the police, the only option for both the Government and the police to regain some faith is to set up the IPCMC.

    There should be no more humming and hawing, no more leg-dragging over this. We have seen through Najib’s so-called reforms that he tends to do things by halves, that he tends to avoid the core of an issue and instead address peripheral matters, but it’s about time he took an issue full-on.

    It may be that he doesn’t dare to restrain the police because he needs them to support his causes, such as curbing street protests and protecting his people from the law, but he cannot run away from impressing on the police that they can’t get away with misconduct or, worse, murder.
    If more custodial deaths occur, he will be accused of incompetence and negligence. It may be as bad as having actual blood on his hands.

    * Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book 'No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians', and the latest volume, 'Ask for No Bullshit, Get Some More!'

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