(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The acting Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai is wrong and badly advised when he said that the police will only initiate the necessary action against Tan Sri Rahim Noor for the former Deputy Prime Minister’s "black eye" if directed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sri Anuar Zainal Abidin had been set up to inquire into the circumstances of the assault of Anwar while in police custody at Bukit Aman on Sept. 20 last year and to identify the person or persons responsible for his maltreatment.
This was because the Police Independent Investigation Team set up to investigate into Anwar’s "black eye" was unable to make any headway, as the subjects of investigation were all superior to the head of the investigation team – a point which I had repeatedly made last year to explain why I had no confidence in such in-house police investigation.
However, when on March 1, the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, confessed to the Royal Commission of Inquiry that he had assaulted a blind-folded, hand-cuffed and defenceless Anwar Ibrahim in the Bukit Aman police lock-up, both the Attorney-General and the Police should have acted immediately to discharge their duties to arrest, charge and prosecute Rahim Noor for criminal offences without having to wait for the Royal Commission of Inquiry to complete its findings or submit its report to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
Unless the Attorney-General and the Police have reason to believe that Rahim Noor’s confession to the Royal Commission of Inquiry cannot be believed as it was made against his own free will, subject to coercion or duress. If this is the case, the Police should open investigations to find out who had compelled the former Inspector- General to give false evidence in confessing to assaulting Anwar Ibrahim at the Royal Commission of Inquiry on March 1.
Otherwise, both the Attorney-General and the Police have been remiss in their duties to uphold the law. I made this point in Parliament yesterday during the debate on the Royal Address, and I criticised the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah for not having charged and prosecuted Rahim Noor after the confession as the latest in his long list of abuse and misuse of his prosecutorial powers.
I had demanded that the Attorney-General explain to Parliament why he is dragging his feet to prosecute Rahim Noor when more than a month have passed since the confession of the former Inspector-General of Police to the crime of assaulting Anwar until the latter got the infamous "black eye".
The question of the police waiting for a directive from the Yang di Pertuan Agong as to whether to prosecute the former IGP as a result of the submission of the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry does not arise at all, and cannot be an excuse for the inaction on the part of the police, and the Attorney-General, to take action against Rahim Noor for three reasons:
Firstly, when a crime is committed, there is equality before the law, and regardless of rank or status, the full force of the law must be brought to bear on the criminal if the system of law and justice is not to be discredited. In this case, the former IGP must be arrested, charged and prosecuted for committing the offence of assaulting Anwar Ibrahim to send out a clear and unmistakable message that no one, however exalted his position, is above the law.
Secondly, under the Constitution, the Yang di Pertuan Agong has the prerogative of mercy to grant pardons for persons convicted of crimes, but he has no powers to grant immunity to anyone from being prosecuted under the laws of the land. After Rahim Noor had been convicted, sentenced and jailed for instance, the Yang di Pertuan Agong has the constitutional powers to pardon him – although this must be exercised justly and fairly – but the Yang di Pertuan Agong has no powers to grant Rahim Noor immunity from prosecution or to issue a directive to the Attorney-General or the Police not to arrest and prosecute Rahim.
Thirdly, when the Royal Commission of Inquiry submits its report to the Yang di Pertuan Agong, this is only a constitutional fiction of the Royal Commission of Inquiry submitting its report to the government, for under the Constitution all decisions on whether to accept the Royal Commission of Inquiry recommendations or make public its report is the for the Government to make and not by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
During yesterday’s debate in Parliament, I had also demanded action against top police officers who had by omission or commission been a party to the maltreatment of Anwar while in police custody in Bukit Aman to convince Malaysians that the very inner sanctum of police high command is not a nest of lawlessness but the sacred custodian of law and order.
I am not suggesting that all the top officers in the police high command should should be treated like Rahim Noor, to be arrested and charged in court, but departmental action must be taken against them for their serious lapses of duties as high police officers as a lesson to all police ranks that they must never fail in their solemn office as police officers.
Yesterday, I had called on the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to appoint Tan Sri Norian Mai as Inspector-General of Police, as it is important that this top police post be filled at the critical stage when public confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the police is at its lowest in history and there must leadership to get the police out of this crisis of confidence.
If the government has reason to believe that Tan Sri Norian Mai is not suitable for this top post in the police force, then another candidate should be appointed.