(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Opposition leaders from KeADILan, PAS, PRM and DAP will meet the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai at Bukit Aman police headquarters on Saturday to discuss the police role in promoting democracy as well as restoring public confidence in police professionalism and impartiality.
The dialogue with the police on Saturday, which will be attended by KeADILan President, Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah and Deputy President, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, PAS President Datuk Fadzil Nor and Datuk Hishamuddin Yahya, PRM Secretary-General Dr. Sanusi Osman and Sivarasah Rasiah and DAP Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, will discuss the issuance of police permits for public gatherings organised by the opposition as well as progress made by the police to restore its image and public confidence, particularly with regard to the spate of public complaints about police abuses of power, including police brutality.
Last Friday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the "actions of one man" do not reflect the whole police force and that he was disappointed with certain quarters continuing to smear the image of the police force by harping on "police brutality."
He said these people were highlighting the actions of one man to make it look like the whole police force acted in a similar fashion.
Abdullah cannot be more wrong. Although the actions of the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, in assaulting the former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to within an inch of his life, and the subsequent attempts at denials and cover-ups, had plunged the police image to an all-time low, Malaysians have yet to be convinced that the top police culture and mentality which could produce such outrageous lawlessness in the very inner sanctum of the police high command had changed.
The question is whether Rahim Noor is an aberration or the very product of the Royal Malaysian Police Force culture and mentality.
It will therefore be most unfortunate if the government and the top police command think that what the police suffers is merely an image problem caused by the actions of one person, when the more serious problem suffererd by the police is public confidence in its independence, professionalism and integrity.
All over the world, there is increasing demand and acceptance of the need for direct police accountability to the citizenry by providing the mechanism and opportunities to review allegations of excessive force or misconduct by the police force.
Is the Malaysian Police prepared to establish meaningful civilian oversight of the police disciplinary process for allegations of excessive force or criminal activity?
For instance, one burning issue about police conduct is the trigger-happy
police shoot-outs involving the killing of innocent people who are not
hard-core criminals. There have still be to satisfactory accounting
on public complaints about the spate of such police shootouts, including:
In April, Parliament was informed that in the past 10 years, 635 people had been shot dead by the police. Can the Police give a full account to satisfy the Malaysian public that no innocent people were killed by the police in all these 635 cases?
This is why the DAP had proposed, as an important step to restore police image and public confidence in its professionalism, the establishment of an Independent Police Ombudsman with powers to receive and investigate all public complaints about abuses of power.
The proposal of an Independent Police Ombudsman will be raised with the IGP at our dialogue on Saturday.