(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP must warn the Barisan Nasional government that it will lose all credibility and legitimacy if it reneges on the establishment of an independent inquiry into former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody.
There are disturbing signs that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is backtracking from his statement 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.
The entire Cabinet should realise that it is not dealing with mere charges of police brutality against Anwar while under police custody, as the charges are as good as facts, as they have been confirmed by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah in his statement of 5th January 1999 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".
I welcome the position taken by the new Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawai supporting an independent inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody and that the culprits responsible for the crime should face the full rigours of the law.
In his interview with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)'s
East Asia Today two days ago (14th January 1999), Abdullah was asked
about Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody,
and the following is the relevant section of his interview:
A: The statement has been made by the Attorney-General and then as a result of that, Dr Mahathir has already decided that there should be an independent panel of inquiry and I think that, we hope, will be able to come up with their findings.
And as far as the government is concerned, whoever is guilty will be punished.
Q: Does that mean there is now going to be an independent inquiry into what happened?
A: Well, it has to be, it has to be and that has already been promised by the Prime Minister.
Q: And does the police report into the beating show that the Inspector-General of Police actually carried out that beating?
A: I am not going to start pointing a finger at anybody and start accusing him.
Let the report speak for itself and let the independent inquiry establish who is guilty and whoever is guilty will receive the right punishment.
The Sun today reported Abdullah as saying that "The setting-up of an independent commission to investigate the assault of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody will be announced when the time is right".
The Star today however carried a contradictory report, quoting the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as saying that the government has yet to decide on the formation of an independent commission to investigate into the police beatings of Anwar while in police custody.
Why is the Prime Minister and his new deputy making different noises on an independent inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under police custody and is this going to be the first major policy difference between the No. 1 and the new No. 2 in the country?
A change of wind in the official attitude on the establishment of an independent inquiry into the police brutality against the former Deputy Prime Minister while under police custody may be discerned in the Utusan Malaysia, which at first took the editorial position in support of an independent inquiry to re-establish public confidence in police professionalism and integrity but quickly backed down to question its necessity.
On 10th January, the Utusan editor-in-chief of the UMNO
newspaper group wrote in his Sunday column in Mingguan Malaysia:
"Adalah sukar bagi anggota-anggota pasukan itu menyiasat pegawai-pegawai atasan mereke seperti mana yang diarahkan oleh Peguam Negara. Kalaupun mereka melakukannya, hasil siasatan itu akan terdedah kepada syak wasangka yang sudah pun terbit dari awal-awal lagi.
"Sesungguhnya, suruhanjaya bebas itu wajar segera dibentuk supaya perkara ini tidak berlanjutan dan menghakis keyakinan orang ramai. Yang paling pokok dalam hal ini ialah memastikan pihak berkuasa tidak dituduh cuba menutup apa yang sebenarnya berlaku."
On Monday, 11th January 1999, Utusan Malaysia in an editorial
under the heading "Kabinet Terbaik Masa Kini" on the appointment
of the new Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister as well as the Cabinet
In the next two days however, Utusan Malaysia seemed to have undergone
a sea-change on its position on an independent commission of inquiry. On
13th January, its front-page headline report was the statement by the Muslim
Lawyers’ Association, Zaitoon Datuk Othman, opposing the establishment
of an independent commission of inquiry, followed up by an editorial on
14th January under the heading "Beri Masa Kepada Pasukan Penyiasat",
contradicting its editorial stand three days earlier by declaring that
"pada ketika ini penubuhan suruhanjaya bebas itu belum lagi perlu",
contending that the police investigation team should be given time to complete
The Utusan Malaysia editorial on 14th January said:
Only great political pressure can put a national daily in the embarrassing position of writing a second editorial to counter the stand of its earlier editorial three days earlier, but I am more concerned about its larger implications, whether this signifies a reneging of government commitment to set up an independent commission of inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" and other injuries while under detention to restore public confidence in the impartiality, professionalism and integrity of the Royal Malaysian Police.
If the government does not immediately set up a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye", there would be many far-reaching
The Cabinet at its meeting next Wednesday should not continue to be remiss by ignoring this issue and I call on all Cabinet Ministers, regardless of party, to respect public and international opinion by taking the policy decision for the immediate establishment of such a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the police brutalities against Anwar while under police custody.