IGP clearing of police negligence or
wrongdoing in the latest death of detainee in police custody, R. Sundaraju
unacceptable and self-serving and an indictment of Suhakam, warranting a
Royal Commission of Inquiry into the some 40 deaths in police custody since
Media Conference Statement
- after attending the
funeral ceremony for lorry-driver Sundara Raju, 32
by Lim Kit Siang
The clearing of police negligence
or wrongdoing in the latest death of detainee in police custody by the
Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai is completely unacceptable
and self-serving and an indictment of Suhakam, warranting a Royal Commission
of Inquiry into some 40 deaths in police custody since 2000.
Yesterday, Norian Mai said that no policeman had caused the death of
lorry-driver R. Sundaraju, 32, who was assaulted while in police lock-up in
the Klang police station.
Norian Mai had visited the Klang police station and said after a police
briefing that other detainees who shared the same cell with Sundaraju had
committed the crime which the police had classified as murder, and that
police had identified nine suspects believed to be involved in the assault
resulting in the death.
It was reported that Sundaraju was sent to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah
Hospital in Klang on Nov. 15 after he was found unconscious at the police
lock-up and died three days later.
Whatever the direct cause of Sundaraju's death, the police cannot be allowed
to absolve itself of all responsibility by its own self-serving exoneration
as Sundaraju was under police custody and protection at the time.
It is simply not good enough and even outrageous for Norian Mai to say that
the introduction of close circuit cameras (CCTV) at all police lock-ups in
the country by the end of the year would enable police to have a 24-hour
surveillance on detainees while in police custody and be the solution to
prevent incidents in the lock-ups.
Is Norian Mai seriously claiming that the lack of closed circuit cameras in
police lock-ups is reason and excuse enough for police irresponsibility,
negligence or wrongdoing over Sundarju's death, or some 40 cases of police
detainees who died since 2000?
Sundaraju's death while under police custody is also an open slap in the
face of Suhakam, which has a Visitation Sub-Working Group to discharge its
statutory responsibility to visit places of detention "to ensure that all
detained persons have a right to be treated with respect due to their
inherent dignity and value as human beings and that no one should be
subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
What is the use of a Suhakam Visitation Sub-Working Group making various
visits and recommendations and expenditures of public funds when it cannot
even ensure the most elementary right to life of persons in police custody
and stop the spiral of deaths of detainees in police lock-ups in the past
Every case of death of a detainee in police custody is an adverse reflection
not only on the Police but also on Suhakam!
The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung told Parliament a month ago
that 34 people had died while under police detention since 2000 - with six
in 2000, 10 in last year and 18 in the first nine months of this year.
These figures do not include the latest updates, which must now include
Sundaraju and the case highlighted last week by DAP Deputy Secretary-General
M. Kulasegaran - M. Uthayamaran, 33, another statistic of police detainees
who died in custody.
Life in Malaysia in 2002 cannot be so cheap and the some 40 deaths in police
custody in the past three years are a double indictment on the police and
DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of the some 40
deaths in police custody since 2000, which should have broad terms of
reference to cover not only the circumstances of individual deaths, but also
police negligence or wrongdoing and the failure of Suhakam to effectively
carry out its statutory duties to protect not only human dignity but the
very lives of those under police custody.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National