Opposition leaders seeking another  meeting with Norian Mai over  public concerns at trigger-happy police mentality, whether in the killing of Dr. Tai Eng Teck, the roughing-up of peaceful demonstrators or arrest of opposition political activists


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Leaders of Parti Keadilan Nasional, DAP, PAS and PRM are asking for another meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai at the increasing public concerns at the trigger-happy police mentality, whether in the fatal shooting of Dr. Tai Eng Teck,  the roughing-up of peaceful demonstrators or the arrest of opposition political activists.

Although Norian Mai yesterday  denied that the police were "trigger happy", claiming that the shooting of Dr. Tai by the police at the Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT station on Monday was "accidental", I do not think Dr. Taiís family or the Malaysian public can accept both these assertions by the Inspector-General of Police.

In claiming that  the firing of three shots by the police and the killing of Dr. Tai as "accidental", Norian Mai has detracted the full measure of  his expression of sadness and regret over the incident and his  condolences to Dr. Taiís family.

If the fatal shooting of Dr. Tai, who was in the car with his companion, a 25-year-old nurse, is not an example of a "trigger-happy" policeman, then what is being "trigger-happy"?

It is not good enough that the policeman involved be charged in court, the entire police force must also bear responsibility for the deplorable and senseless killing of a young medical doctor in circumstances where there could be no justification for any personnel to resort to such fatal shootings.

I call on the  police to  make an ex-gratia compensation of RM500,000 to Dr. Taiís family.  Although no amount of money can bring back the life of Dr. Tai or alleviate the pain and loss of his family and friends, the ex-gratia payment would represent the sadness and regret of the police force at the completely unjustified killing as well as a testament that the police force would take full responsibility for all unjustified killings caused by trigger-happy policemen.

After his appointment as Inspector-General of Police, Norian Mai had tried to improve the public image of the police, which fell to its all-time low when the top policeman in the country became the most notorious criminal in taking the law into his own hands by assaulting the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, blindfolded and handcuffed, in the Bukit Aman lock-up not only "blue-black" in the eye but even  to an inch of his life.

Although Norian Mai floated the idea of the formation of an  unofficial committee comprising social activists  from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), human rights groups and the Bar Council to help review and project the  image of a people-friendly police force, not much success had been achieved to date as the police is not prepared to accept proposals like the establishment of a Police Ombudsman where the public can be satisfied that gross police abuses of power would be independently investigated and dealt with, without fear or
favour.

The police is suffering not just an image problem, but even  more  serious, the crisis of public confidence in its independence, professionalism and integrity.

Dr. Taiís fatal shooting has revived the  burning issue of  trigger-happy police shoot-outs involving the killing of innocent people who are not hard-core criminals, and the following cases have still to be resolved satisfactorily:
 

In the past ten years,  635 people had been shot dead by the police.  Is the Police prepared to  give a full account to satisfy the Malaysian public that no innocent people were killed by the police in all these 635 cases.

The trigger-happy police mentality can also be reflected in the recent police mishandling of last Sundayís peaceful assembly in Kuala Lumpur on the first anniversary of Anwarís arrest, "black eye" and persecution.
 

On Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said police have been told not to be rough but they have to act if demonstrators resort to violence.

He said the police should not be hastily accused of brutality because there were  cases of policemen being badly beaten up on Sunday.

Abdullah should be aware of numerous cases of peaceful demonstrators being badly beaten up on Sunday.

I agree with Abdullah that no one should be quick to accuse anyone of violence, and that all parties should co-operate to find out what actually transpired last Sunday causing a peaceful assembly to become unruly and resulting in clashes with the police.  Was it started by the police agent provocateurs or by the peaceful demonstrators?

In our meeting with Norian Mai, the leaders of the Opposition parties will want to get to the bottom as to who were responsible for being unruly and rough at last Sundayís peaceful assembly.

Leaders of the four Opposition parties met Norian Mai and top police officers at Bukit Aman on June 19 this year, and one of the issues discussed at that meeting was the responsibility of the Police Force to promote the  democratic way of life in Malaysia, which is one of the dedicated objectives of the nation enshrined in the Rukunegara.

As part of its commitment to the promotion of democracy in Malaysia,  the Police leadership was asked to ensure that there is more democratic space for Malaysians under existing laws and regulations, as allowing for peaceful demonstrations which is a form of freedom of assembly guaranteed in the Malaysian Constitution.

The Police should review and reconsider its recent actions to ensure that it steer clear of the election battle for the hearts and minds of the people in the political arena, and as the recent arrest of political leaders and activists from the Opposition in the past few days are clearly politically-motivated, all those arrested should be released immediately and unconditionally.

(23/9/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong