(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Commission of Inquiry into the "black eye" and other injuries sustained by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a result of police assaults while under police custody announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after the Cabinet meeting today should conduct all its proceedings and hearings in public.
The Commission of Inquiry should have been set up at the end of September itself, when Anwar was brought to court with a "black eye" and other injuries inflicted on him ten days earlier on the first night of his arrest by the police on Sept. 20, 1999.
The delay, attempt to cover up, and Mahathir’s ill-advised remarks that Anwar’s injuries could have been self-inflicted to seek national and international sympathy, had gravey undermined public confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of instruments of government.
Whether the establishment of the commission of inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" more than four months after the police assault could help to restore public confidence would depend on the terms of reference and powers invested in the commission.
The commission of inquiry should not only hold public hearings of the police high command, including the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, the four Directors of Special Branch, Internal Security and Public Order, Management and Criminal Investigation Department, but also Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as Home Minister at the time.
The more-than-four-month delay in establishing a commission of inquiry into Anwar’s "black eye" had been an injustice not only to Anwar but also to international reputation of the country.