Police Russian rouelette victim How Soon Hock will be test case for Suhakam

Media statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The increases in allowances for the police and other uniformed forces in the 2001 budget are welcome, and the police in particular, should demonstrate that it is a people-friendly and people-responsive service.

It is most regrettable that after the elapse of more than three weeks, both the Minister for Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai had maintained a studious silence on the case of the police Russian rouelette victim, How Soon Hock, 24, carpenter, who lost his right eye as a result of irresponsible police gun-play, including Russian rouelette, when he was detained as a robbery suspect.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar told the DAP MP for Bagan, Lim Hock Seng during question time in Parliament that the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had received 268 complaints between April and October 20 which include complaints about the trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, alleged abuse of power by the police, objections to the Internal Security Act, freedom of Press, judicial system and immigration problems.

He said the complaints were under investigation and that the annual report, which would include findings of the investigations, would be tabled in Parliament next year.

From Hamid’s reply, he seemed to imply that Suhakam would have no powers to make public the outcome of its investigations into complaints of human rights violations, which would not only hamper Suhakam in its statutory responsibilities to protect and promote human rights, but also undermine its authority and credibility.

It would be most unsatisfactory and unacceptable if outcome of complaints to Suhakam are only to be known in the annual Suhakam report to Parliament -  and there is nothing in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 inhibiting it from making public the outcome of its investigations into human rights violations.

In fact, Section 4(2)(e) on its powers "to issue public statements on human rights as and when necessary" provides the statutory authority for Suhakam to publicise the outcome of its investigations into human rights violations.

Suhakam should be aware that public confidence and patience are beginning to wear thin as nothing concrete or definitive in the "protection and promotion of human rights" seemed to have resulted from its establishment although half a year have passed, and it is time that Suhakam show results of its positive impact in the field of human rights in the country.

Earlier this week, a Human Rights Commissioner and ex-judge M. Shankar said "allegations based on credible first-hand evidence" concerning police violence and brutality would be given the most earnest consideration by Suhakam and that general allegations without credible supporting evidence would be ignored.

Let the police Russian rouelette victim, How Soon Hock, be the test-case for Suhakam as I have advised him to  lodge a formal report with the Human Rights Commission.  How had recounted  his ordeal at  the Puchong police station on Oct. 6, when he was taken out of the police  lock-up and subjected to severe beating of his soles with rubber hoses and "electric prod" treatment all over his body, as well as irresponsible police gun-play including two Russian rouelette treatments where all the bullets except one  in the chamber were taken out and the trigger fired.  When evading a police officer who brandished a pistol at him, a shot  went off which  tore off his right eye, nearly killing him.

The police then told How when taking him for medical treatment  to tell the doctor that he had been involved in a motorcycle accident.

Suhakam should take a clear stand even before dealing  with How’s case against the use of Russian rouelettes as a form of police questioning and intimidation technique as serious human rights violations, and to demand that the  use of Russian rouelette by a police officer should be regarded as  a serious breach of police discipline warranting criminal prosecution and dismissal from the police force.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman