Has Suhakam joined the  ranks of the  “anti-national” in Malaysia  because of  its report on widespread police human rights violations at  the Kesas Highway last November?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): On his return from overseas this morning, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad faulted  the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam)'s inquiry report on widespread police violations of human rights at the Kesas Highway last year as  being biased and “very much influenced by western thinking and not in the interest of the nation”.

Has Suhakam joined the respectable ranks of the “anti-national” for its report on widespread police violations of human rights at the Kesas Highway? If so, this will be the most remarkable addition to the ranks of the “anti-national” in Malaysia, including not only another  former Deputy Prime Minister, but so many former senior members of the judiciary and the civil service who are currently Suhakam commissioners.

At the rate of the swelling of the  “anti-national” ranks in the country, it would not be long before those who do not belong to them would be looked askance by the Malaysian rakyat as lacking in personal courage and integrity as well as  national commitment to promote and protect democracy, human rights, justice and fair play in Malaysia.

Mahathir blamed  Suhakam for not giving “some weight” to the evidence given during its inquiry into the Kesas Highway Incident by the police.

Was Mahathir fair to Suhakam and what was the basis for such a comment? It is most extraordinary that the Prime Minister could come to  such a conclusion even before he had read the Suhakam report and before the Cabinet’s meeting on it.

In this connection, it should be noted that the Suhakam inquiry into the Kesas Highway incident on Nov. 5 last year had drawn very adverse inferences against the police after 16 police personnel had given  evidence.

Suhakam said  that many police witnesses gave prepared testimonies and were unwilling to answer impromptu questions from the panel.

According to the report, one police officer had contradicted himself, while most stated that answers would be provided by the next witness.

The Suhakam report said: “The next witness would come well prepared to answer the questions that had been put earlier but would not answer any new questions.”

Why did the Police act so evasively and irresponsibly, completely at variance with the canons of accountability and transparency to help Suhakam establish the facts as to what happened at the Kesas Highway last November?

If Mahathir holds that the Suhakam inquiry and report is biased and reflect only one view and angle of the police brutality, and argued  that “the police have to resort to force because the demonstrators too use force", is  he prepared to establish a  Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct another public inquiry  which is more  even-handed and comprehensive from the government’s point of view into the Kesas Highway violations of human rights, with full co-operation from the police?

If the government is not prepared to do so, and is unable to make a point-by-point  rebuttal of  the Suhakam’s inquiry report, the government should have the decency, propriety and humility  to accept it and issue a report as to the actions it proposes to take as well as the Suhakam recommendations it proposes to implement to ensure that there would be  no recurrence of widespread police violations of human rights.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman