(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the government would consider setting up an independent panel to investigate charges that police officers had caused injuries to former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during his detention while under police custody.
These are now no more charges, but as good as fact, as they have been confirmed by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah himself when he said two days ago that it had been proved that Anwar had suffered injuries "caused by police officers whilst he was in police custody" and that "I am also of the opinion that the Royal Malaysian Police is fully responsible for the injuries to the Complainant whilst he was in the legal custody of the Police".
Right from the very first day that Anwar shocked the nation and the world with the "black eye" when he was produced in court on Sept. 29, DAP had demanded a completely independent investigation that has nothing to do with the police.
As I said in my statement on Sept. 29, 1998:
"Mahathir and Rahim Noor owe not only Anwar's wife and children but also Malaysians and the world a full explanation as to why the former Deputy Prime Minister was brutally attacked like a common criminal while in the custody of the police - as the entire reputation and credibility of the government is at stake as a result of the shocking spectacle of the former Deputy Prime Minister with swollen eyes and bruises on his right arm ten days after being beaten during detention.
"How can Anwar's family, the Malaysian public and the world have confidence that the police, after maltreating Anwar in his ten days in detention, could fairly and impartially conduct police investigations as to who, how and why Anwar was brutally assaulted when in police custody?"
The statement by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah on Tuesday that three-and-a-half months after the police assaults, the Police Special Investigation Team could not identify the police person or persons responsible for the injuries has shattered all public faith and confidence in the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of government institutions in the country.
It is no exaggeration to say that public confidence in the Police, the Attorney-General and the government as a whole has never been so low after the Attorney-General’s statement.
The statement by the Attorney-General that he had directed the Police Special Investigation Team to conduct further investigations inspires no confidence whatsoever for three reasons:
Firstly, the Attorney-General seems to have placed full faith in Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Yusuf, described as Consultant Forensic Medical Examiner, Kuala Lumpur although he had clearly come out with a report clearly in variance with that of his superior, Dr. Abdul Halim bin Haji Mansar, who had been described during Anwar Ibrahim’s trial as Dr. Abdul Rahman’s superior as Head of the Forensic Division of the Department of Pathology, Kuala Lumpur Hospital. The public are entitled to know the credentials, background and credibility of Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Yusuf to be treated by the Attorney-General as the most eminent forensic authority in Malaysia.
Secondly, how could a comparatively junior police officer be expected to investigate the entire high command of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, involving the Inspector-General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police and the Directors of Special Branch, Internal Security and Public Order, Criminal Investigation Department and Management?
Thirdly, from past record, the Attorney-General’s directive to the police to pursue further investigations had not resulted in any satisfactory outcome, the best example being the scandalous way the Attorney-General’s Chambers handled the case of the death of mechanic Lee Guat Leong, 42, in police lock-up in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur on May 12, 1995 after he was picked up on suspicion of involvement in the multi-million ringgit break-in at the Mayban Finance branch office at Taman Cheras on April 27, 1995.
Lee was found dead at the police remand centre in Jalan Ipoh and police had initially classified his case as one of "sudden death".
Although the Attorney-General had ordered a judicial inquiry following his dissatisfaction with police failure to identify the person or persons responsible for Lee’s death, only two of 11 policemen found by the inquiry to be "criminally involved" in Lee’s death were subsequently charged in court. The two were jailed 18 months’ each by the Sessions Court and the sentence doubled to 36 months’ jail by the High Court.
The reputation and credibility of the Attorney-General suffered a grave blow in the Lee Guat Leong case.
The Prime Minister should realise that the latest scandal of the Attorney-General’s statement on Anwar "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody has plunged public confidence and credibiblity in the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of institutions of government to the lowest point in his 18 years as Prime Minister since 1981.
DAP calls for a special cabinet meeting to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody to restore public confidence and credibility in the institutions of government.
The Opposition should be consulted on the composition of the Royal Commission of Inquiry to ensure that it would command undoubted national and international confidence.