From the beginning, the police have spoken of the IPCMC as if it’s a tiger to be rejected, despite having succeeded in making it a pussycat. The Inspector General of Police’s latest statement is probably just a continuation of the pretense of “reluctantly” accepting the IPCMC and “surrendering control”.
IGP Tan Sri Hamid Bador was reported to have called on the government to delay the IPCMC Bill because the police think some of their reservations have not been given “fair attention”.
It was also reported that the Parliamentary Special Committee (PSC) which “looked into” the October version of the Bill has proposed 36 changes.
It appears the IGP knows the changes and has responded to them. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) does not know the changes, but feels the IGP’s remarks must be honoured with a response.
CAGED urges Members of Parliaments to return the Bill to the PSC if it doesn’t meet certain minimum expectations.
The basic expectations of civil society organisations (CSO) — also of the Royal Police Commission in 2005 — are missing from the Bill. There are many. We highlight four: wrong model, non-negotiables, bogeyman and interference with the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)
society does not recommend the EAIC model. Civil society recommends the MACC
model in which commissioners are not persons who meet occasionally, but
officers with police ranks who are always on duty, have evidence rooms and holding
cells. If armed (MACC) officers are needed to investigate corruption, why
should (IPCMC) officers with less power be assigned to investigate grievous
injuries and deaths?
hurts and deaths in police custody must be investigated and decided upon by
persons who are not retired or serving police officers. The Bill must include
measures to prevent suspects from fabricating, destroying or removing evidence
from crime scenes. The IPCMC cannot have less power than the EAIC. We note that
the EAIC has power to seize without warrant and has specific provisions to hold
public inquiries, but these powers are not bequeathed to the IPCMC.
board” in the IPCMC is a bogeyman, an imaginary enemy. Police commissions we
have studied do not include discipline boards. They make recommendations to
police disciplinary boards. According to the drafters of the Bill, the IPCMC is
a discipline commission, not an investigation commission and “therefore it
doesn’t need extensive investigation powers”. We would support deferring the
IPCMC discipline board, provided IPCMC investigation powers are enhanced and
police disciplinary board data is published quarterly.
Interference with the CPC and secrecy
When the EAIC investigates deaths in custody, it interferes with the CPC and the Chief Justice’s Directive that coroners must conduct inquests. Evidence made available to families by coroners is kept secret by the EAIC. This hampers exercise by families of their right to justice using civil procedures.
We do not know what the IPCMC (November) Bill says. We can only say that if it does not have powers similar to that of the MACC, if it does not force independent investigation of death and grievous hurt in custody, and if it ends transparent, public coroners inquests, it is not the IPCMC promised in the Pakatan GE14 manifesto. MPs must reject it.
We now add two general points.
First, there were no consultations with civil society before the Bill was drafted. What Liew held are town hall meetings lasting about three hours each. At these meetings, civil society was asked to comment on “the Bill,” NOT to choose between alternative models of police commissions, e.g. a completely independent commission such as the Ombudsman in Northern Ireland, an oversight commission as in Hong Kong or something in-between as in England and Wales.
In a Westminster-style democracy like in Malaysia, the presentation of alternatives — and data about the variety and volume of problems to be solved — is done by the government publishing green papers and inviting the public to submit comments. Green papers are included in Promise 16 of Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 election manifesto. There is no green paper on the IPCMC.
Second, the Bill should have been marshalled and tabled by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the Home Minister, for it is he who is responsible for the police, not Liew, the law minister. Liew lacks functional knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses and operational dynamics of the police. Therefore, he cannot be responsible for an overhaul of how the police are governed.
To improve the process of law-making, for future Bills, MPs must insist on Green Papers and insist that the Minister responsible for the affected institution must marshal and table the Bill. The Minister must ensure meaningful dialogue — in this case, with the police and CSOs.
There must be genuine commitment to “New Malaysia”.
Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances, CAGED
30 November 2019
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