(Petaling Jaya, Friday): I am shocked by the statement of the acting Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai defending the various controversial police shoot-outs recently resulting in the killing of innocent bystanders, in particular:
· The killing of of five people, including a eight-month pregnant woman, N. Selvamalar, 31, when the police stormed a house in Taman Sungei Besi Indah at Balaikong, on Oct. 2 last year following the release of an 11-year-old kidnap vicdtim. The victim was the son of former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.
· The shoot-out in Tumpat on Oct. 3 last year in which six men, including three Rela members, one of whom was an MIC division youth chief, travelling in a van, were shot dead by the police along the Pengkalan Chepa-Kota Bahru main road.
· The fatal police shooting of a Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) teller, Mohd Zailani Mohd Salleh, 33, on January 8, 1999 who was mistaken by the police as one of the four bank robbers during a gun battle in the robbery at the BSN branch in Taman Bukit Maluri, Kepong.
Norian said the police had completed investigations into the various controversial police shoot-outs recently, and found that the police actions were justified as the situation at that moment warranted such action from his men.
He said: "The suspects were armed at that time and we had to take appropriate action to defend ourselves."
Is Norian seriously suggesting that the eight-month old woman, N. Selvamalar was armed at the time and that the police was justified in shooting and killing her, together with the eight-month foetus in her womb?
Furthermore, what is the justification of the police being involved in a shoot-out when the 11-year-old kidnap victim had already been released?
Was the BSN teller, Mohd Zailani Mohd. Salleh also "armed at that time" to justify the police killing him in the shoot-out at the BSN branch in Taman Bukit Maluri, Kepong last month?
Although Norian said that the findings of police investigations into a spate of shooting incidents involving suspected criminals and kidnappers would be submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers soon, how can Norian expect the police findings to have any public credibility when the police is both the accused and investigator?
Furthermore, in publicly declaring that police investigations have cleared the police of any wrongdoing in the recent spate of police shoot-outs, the police has taken the role of judge as well.
Malaysians are also bewildered by the maze of contradictions and inconsistencies emanating from the police in matters concerning police investigations involving the police as a party.
In the case of the infamous "black eye" and other injuries sustained by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while under police custody, and when the police was handling investigations into the matter, the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor was on public record on Oct. 17 last year as saying that the findings of the police investigations into Anwar’s "black eye" was conducted by an independent team which dealt directly with the Attorney-General and were not required to report to him.
The Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah was even more specific and said that all criminal investigation reports are to be submitted directly to the public prosecutor and no other officers, even Ministers, should have access to them. He added that if the reports were referred to, for example, a Minister or other officials in the administration, these people did not have the right to know their contents.
If this applies to police investigations into the various police shoot-outs, then Norian have no right to know their contents although he is acting Inspector-General of Police. Has Norian also committed an offence under the Official Secrets Act?
Malaysians suspect there are double-standards here to avoid police accountability and transparency which will not be conducive to the process of restoring public confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of the police force.
DAP rejects the self-serving justification of police shoot-outs by acting Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, and calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into all police shoot-outs where innocent bystanders had been killed.
In December 1997, there was a shoot-out at a longhouse at Bakong, Miri where Enyang ak Gendang died from a gun-shot wound. Enyang and two other Ibans were wounded when they and the longhouse folks at Bakong, Miri were involved in a land dispute with a logging company operating in the area.
Deaths as a result of police shooting involving innocent or unarmed people in a situation where police shoot-outs are avoidable must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and the Police must re-establish its image as friend and not enemy of the people by demonstrating that it would not condone trigger-happy police personnel by supporting the proposal for such a Royal Commission of Inquiry into avoidable deaths in police shoot-outs.