(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The resignation of Tan Sri Rahim Noor as Inspector-General of Police to "assume full responsibiility" for the injuries suffered by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, while under police custody is such a rare example of a top officer assuming departmental responsibility in Malaysia that it should be greeted with joy, elation and even celebration - as heralding a new era of accountability, transparency and good governance in Malaysia.
But the public reaction in the country to Rahim Noor’s resignation has been rather subdued, cautious, cynical and even of downright dissatisfaction.
This is a reflection of how low public confidence and credibility in the institutions of government in Malaysis has sunk in public esteem in recent times.
Another reason is because Malaysians do not know whether Rahim Noor’s resignation marks a new beginning of public accountability and transparency of the government or whether it is another move to continue to deny these principles of good governance of accountability and transparency by the Malaysian government.
Rahim Noor’s resignation has left many questions unanswered. When he meets the press about his resignation, which he said would be "in a day or two", Rahim Noor should provide these answers, including:
1. Why didn’t he assume responsibility for the injuries suffered
by Anwar while in police custody three-and-a-half months ago when he first
discovered about such lawlessness perpetrated against the former
Deputy Prime Minister in the very inner sanctum of the police high command?
2. When did he, as Inspector-General of Police, first learnt of Anwar’s ‘black eye’ and other injuries while under police custody. Anwar alleged that he was assaulted until he lost consciousness on the first night of his arrest on Sept. 20.
3. Why didn’t he, as Inspector-General of Police who under Section 4(1) of the Police Act 1967 is responsible for the command and control of the Royal Malaysian Police, direct a full inquiry on his first discovery of Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody?
4. When was Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in his capacity as Home Minister, first informed of Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries. Was it as a result of police briefing that Mahathir made the outrageous remarks that Anwar’s injuries might have been self-inflicted to "gain political mileage"?
Although Rahim Noor said his resignation as IGP is to "assume full responsibility" for Anwar’s injuries while under police custody, it is still not clear whether his resignation is to "assume" or "avoid" police responsibility for Anwar’s injuries as the identity of the police persons or persons who committed such lawlessness and crimes in Bukit Aman has still to be identified.
If Rahim Noor wants to "assume full responsibility" for Anwar’s injuries while under police custody, which has tarnished the national and international image of the Malaysian Royal Police in a way that has never happened before, the last thing he should do is to identify the culprits who perpetrated the assaults on Anwar and then submit his resignation.
In his statement on 5th January, 1999, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah said he had directed the Special Police Investigation Team to complete its investigations by recording statements from nine senior police officers, namely:
(i) Tan Sri Rahim Noor, Inspector-General of Police;
(ii) Tan Sri Norian bin Mai, Deputy Inspector-General of Police;
(iii) Dato’ Mohd. Ghazali @ Fauzi bin Yacub, Director of Internal Security and Public Order;
(iv) Dato’ Mohd. Jamil bin Johari, Director of Management, Bukit Aman;
(v) Datuk’ Yaacob bin Mohd. Amin, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Bukit Aman;
(vi) Dato’ Mohd. Yusof bin Abdul Rahman, Director of the Special Branch, Bukit Aman;
(vii) Dato’ Kamaruddin bin Ali, Chief Police Officer, Kuala Lumpur.
(viii) Dato’ Ramli bin Yusoff, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Bukit Aman; and
(ix) Dato’ Meor Chek Hussein bin Mahayuddin, Commander of Police Special Force, Bukit Aman.
Rahim Noor and the other eight members of the Police High Command should personally state publicly whether they have any involvement, direct or indirect, with Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody as they have been named by the Attorney-General in such a manner as to imply they could be criminally involved.
What is now at stake is not just the truth about Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody, but the very image, integrity and professionalism of the Police High Command and the entire police force.
In the past, the Police High Command had always blamed a few "black sheep" in the forces for tarnishing the image of the police. Now the question is whether there are several "black sheep" in the Police High Command who had tarnished the image of the police rank-and-file.