(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):
by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General
and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, October
If a former Deputy Prime Minister could be assaulted while in police custody with no result of investigations four weeks after the assault, how can there be national and international confidence in the professionalism of the Malaysian police
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said in Tokyo yesterday that he was shocked and angry to learn that former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sustained a black eye and bruises while in police custody.
"We are as much upset and angry over this thing as anybody else because we don't treat prisoners like that," Mahathir was quoted by Kyodo News as telling a group of Japanese reporters.
Mahathir added: "And certainly we should not treat a former deputy prime minister by maybe punching him in the eye so that the world will see this is how we treat our prisoners."
Mahathir said he was "shocked" that the police would do such an "unusual" thing, knowing the damage it would do to their image.
"So I want to know, how is it that he gets a black eye when others did not get a black eye? But we know it has happened so let's give a chance for us to do a proper investigation.
"These things happen when in police custody, so we have to find out who is wrong, who has done this thing and take necessary action against the person concerned," he said.
Malaysians are relieved that Mahathir did not repeat his highly cynical and offensive remark earlier that Anwar’s injuries could have been self-inflicted which in all justice, he should have publicly withdrawn.
Mahathir’s expression of shock and anger at Anwar’s black-eye and bruises seems genuine, but it is disappointing that he has not taken a firm and proper stand on the outrageous incident, which has now become a “black eye” for Mahathir and Malaysia in the international arena.
On the one hand, Mahathir said he was “upset and angry” over Anwar’s injuries in custody “because we don’t treat prisoners like that” but in the very next breath, he seems to be condoning such police indiscipline and brutality when he said “These things happen when in policy custody”.
Mahathir’s remarks also raises the question whether he is more concerned about the “black eye” to Anwar or the “black eye” to the police force.
Mahathir also seems to have forgotten that the “black eye” to Anwar is not just a police responsibility, but also one where he must bear full personal responsibility as he is the Home Minister.
Mahathir is a great advocate of “Learn from Japan”. If the outrage of Anwar’s “black eye” had happened in Japan, with a former Japanese Deputy Prime Minister being assaulted by the police while in police custody, the Japanese Home Minister would have resigned instantly - not to mention possibly committing hara-kiri.
In Malaysia, government leaders have been talking about the need to develop a culture of responsibility - but in this case, the Home Minister, who is Mahathir himself, seems to have taken the position that Anwar’s “black eye” is no responsibility of his and solely that of the police, although it is directly under his Ministry.
Mahathir is clearly setting a very bad example of Ministerial culture of responsibility in Malaysia.
While Malaysians do not expect Mahathir to resign as Home Minister because
of Anwar’s black-eye, despite the Prime Minister’s “Look East” exhortations,
the nation and the world had expected Mahathir to accept full responsibility
for the episode by personally directing a full and independent investigation
by a panel which has nothing to do with the police - as it is the police
itself which is the subject of the investigation.
If a former Deputy Prime Minister could be assaulted while in police custody with no result of investigations four weeks after the assault, how can there be national and international confidence in the professionalism of the Malaysian police?
I have given notice to raise the issue of Anwar’s black-eye while in police custody on the first day of Parliament next Tuesday during the one-hour question time, with the following question:
“To ask the Prime Minister the result and outcome of investigations into the allegations by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of police beatings in a police lock-up in Bukit Aman when he was first arrested on Sept. 20 while handcuffed and blindfolded until he lost consciousness.”
I have just received the Parliamentary Order Papers and found that the question on Anwar’s black-eye while in police custody, which is the foremost issue of national and international concern, has been listed as the last question, i.e. No. 23, which means that it would never get answered during the question hour on Tuesday, allowing for supplementary questions to elicit further information about Anwar’s treatment while in police custody.
Mahathir should know that only a completely independent panel of investigations into Anwar’s allegations of police beatings while in police custody on the first night of the arrest on Sept. 20 can satisfy national and international opinion that there is no attempt at a cover-up and I call on him to accept full responsibility as Home Minister for Anwar’s black-eye by instituting such an independent panel of investigation.