12th July 1997
YB Tan Sri Zahir Mohamad Ismail,
Yang di Pertua, Dewan Rakyat.
YB Tan Sri,
This is to give notice that I wish to move the following motion in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, July 14, 1997:
"That this House, under SO 18, gives leave to the Parliamentary Opposition Leader and MP for Tanjong, YB Lim Kit Siang, to move a motion of urgent definite public importance on the Police’s tough and intimidatory response in subjecting representatives of NGOs and political parties to questioning under the offence of false news under section 8(A) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act with regard to their complaints about unsympathetic police attitude to reports about domestic violence, for the following reasons:
"At the end of last month, the Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datin Paduka Zaleha Ismail and women’ groups complained about the generally unsympathetic police atittude in refusing to entertain reports of domestic violence, and in the process, voiced the long-standing suffering of Malaysian women who had not been able to find sympathy and support from policemen who insisted that domestic problems should be solved at home.
"This led to the most uncalled-for reactions by the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, first making insinuations and imputations about the integrity of the Minister for National Unity and Social Welfare, using language such as ‘We will deeply regret if if her statement is not true or is partially true, or if it had stemmed from provocation from some quarters’.
"Such reactions were most unwarranted, as if the Minister and the women’s groups were dangerous anti-national elements out to destroy not only the credibility of the police forces but the very security of the nation and were accusing the Police of some heinous wrongdoing when all they were seeking to do was to try to focus police attention on a very real social problem about the attitude of police personnel who have not been able to catch up with changing times after Parliament had criminalised domestic violence.
"Malaysians had thought that the issue had settled down when the IGP declared on July 4 that ‘every policeman had been trained to accept the reports by the victims, trivial or serious’ and that policemen had been warned that ‘failure to accept the reports would invite severe punishment’, including being charged under section 217 of the Penal Code, which carries a two-year prison term and a fine, upon conviction.
"Everybody had hoped the controversy had the ‘silver lining’ in at last ensuring that the police would take the issue of domestic violence seriously and that a new page would begin on this matter.
‘Malaysians are dismayed however that the Police is continuing with its tough and intimidatory responses on the issue, when the New Straits Times reporter, Shareem Amry, who wrote the "news analysis" article "Making sure women are protected under Domestic Violence Act" in the July 2 issue was investigated by the police under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, i.e. with regard to the offence of publishing ‘false news’.
"On Friday, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita secretary Irene Xavier was questioned at Bukit Aman police headquarters in connection with the same NST article, as happened to representatives from other women’s groups, like Zaitun Kassim and S. Manohari of All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), some of whom were questioned for hours at a time about purported false allegations against the police.
"Women’s groups are alarmed at the police treatment of individuals and organisations whose intentions have been to seek solutions to problem faced by victims of domestic violence, and in particular their being asked to breach confidentiality between themselves and the victims of domestic violence with the police intention to question victims of violence.
"The House should express its concern at a number of possible consequences of the police action, viz:
"For the above reasons, the House should impress on the Police to accept the bona fides of the women organisations who wanted to seek justice for victims of domestic violence and call off all investigations against representatives of NGOs, political parties and the press arising from the recent controversy and to work with them in a spirit of amity and co-operation to enforce the Domestic Violence Act."
Lim Kit Siang