Police should  just call off Ops Warta II so that it will  not be reduced into a joke by being transformed  into Ops Summons Server or Ops Face-Saving

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Thursday):   The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai should exercise leadership by calling off Ops Warta II so that it will not be reduced into a joke by being transformed  into Ops Summons Server by the 4,600 traffic personnel to serve 3.3 million summons or more appropriately Ops Face-Saving. 

Although the Police and the Attorney-Generalís Chambers have sought to explain Ops Warta II farce by saying that the operation was legal, it is clear that the police had acted on wrong legal footing and  advice in launching Ops Warta II where the police had threatened to turn the country upside-down with  thousands of police  personnel to put   up roadblocks,  conduct house-to-house searches, ambush car parks of commercial buildings and shopping complexes  to arrest-and-handcuff-and-lock-up on sight  offenders with outstanding 3.3 million traffic summons which have not been settled although the overwhelming majority of them had probably not been properly and legally served! 

Now, Ops Warta II is explained as an operation for the police to personally serve summonses and offer compounds to offenders - after the Attorney-Generalís Chambers have clarified that the police can only arrest  traffic offenders if warrants of arrests have been issued by the courts, and that the police have no arrest powers of their own over traffic offenders, let alone arrest-handcuff-lock-up on sight! 

Out of the 3.3 million outstanding traffic summons which is the target of the extended Ops Warta II, how many of them are police summons (POL 257) or police notification (POL 170A), which is notice of a traffic offence together with an offer for compound via registered mail to the registered owner of the vehicle, or where the vehicle owner did not commit the offence, to furnish details of the driver of the vehicle.  Both are  non-arrestable notices without the issue of warrants of arrest by the courts. 

The overwhelming majority of the outstanding 3.3 million traffic summonses must  belong to these two categories of non-arrestable notices. If Ops Warta II is not called off, and to go into full operation on May 17, are the 4,600 traffic personnel going to station themselves at public parking areas, shopping complexes and toll plazas to serve the 3.3 million oustanding summonses, turning it into Ops Summons Service? 

This is a classic case where it appears impossible for a government agency, in this case the Police, to admit that it had made a mistake and that the entire Ops Warta II had been based on bad legal advice.  As a result, the continuation of Ops Warta II is more a Ops Face-Saving more than anything else. 

According to a Bernama report, Norian Mai said that  the Ops Warta II operation had been referred to the Attorney General's chambers, the legal officers at theHome Ministry and 200 legal experts within the police force before its implementation. 

He said: "I will like to stress that we are the leading agency in enforcement of the laws and we will study the implementation of any regulation.  issue of lack of transparency among the force should not arise". 

The IGP should be concerned that the foremost agency in the country  to  uphold law and order - the police - has acted in a manner most subversive of the principle of the rule of law, throwing up the great issues of accountability and transparency of the police force. 

It should be a matter of greater concern not only to the Police and the government, but to the 23 million Malaysians as to how the Attorney-Generalís Chambers, the legal officers of the Home Ministry and the 200 legal experts could collectively proffer such bad legal advice as to launch Ops Warta II turning the country upside-down into a police state, with ordinary citizens threatened with arrest-handcuff-lock-up on sight! 

Was there not a single voice from the phalanx of government experts in the Attorney-Generalís Chambers, the Home Ministry and the police cautioning and warning that Ops Warta II was based on a completely wrong and mistaken interpretation of the law? 

May be, the Police should next time just give a tinkle to Karpal Singh to get his second opinion before plunging the country into such chaos and pandemonium over Ops Warta II. 

If the Inspector-General of Police finds it too big a ďloss of faceĒ to call off Ops Warta II, then this is the time for the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to intervene in the public interest by cancelling Ops Warta II and directing the police to have  a dialogue with political parties, consumer groups, trade unions, the Bar Council and other interested NGOs to devise a  satisfactory formula to effect the settlement of the  outstanding three million traffic summons without trampling on the rule of law or going through the new farce of Ops Summons Service or Ops Face-Saving, wasting public resources and causing unnecessary public inconveniences.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman