All police ranks
should be impressed that their misconduct and abuses of power like the Palm
Court police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals, creating a diplomatic
and international incident, could cause grave economic damage to the country
to the cost of millions or even tens of millions of ringgit
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said yesterday that
the report of the Inspector-General of Police into the Palm Court
mistreatment of Indian IT professionals in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur last
Sunday would be submitted to India by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.
This is most welcome, as it reflects a commitment by the Malaysian
government to be open and transparent in its dealings with the Indian
Government on the deplorable Palm Court incident which had plunged bilateral
relations between the two countries to an all-time low.
Abdullah must be commended for trying to undo the damage of the Palm Court
incident and I applaud his receptive response to the proposal that the IT
professionals should not be further victimized by having to pay RM90 to have
their defaced visas replaced by the Immigration Department.
In my memorandum to Abdullah yesterday, I had suggested that the Immigration
Department waive the RM90 fee for the replacement of the defaced visas for
all the victims of the Palm Court incident, or alternatively the Police
should be responsible for paying the cost of visa replacements as the
defacement was solely the work of the police last Sunday.
Abdullah was quoted in the press today as saying that the waiver of the RM90
visa replacement fee for the Palm Court victims was "a small problem which
the government will look into" (New Sunday Times) and DAP urges Abdullah or
the Immigration Department to make an immediate and definitive announcement
on the matter.
Although the RM90 visa replacement fee is a small matter, it is nonetheless
very important and significant, as it will be a strong signal as to whether
the Malaysian authorities are prepared to accept responsibility for the
abuses of power and police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals in the
Palm Court incident last Sunday.
Despite being a week since the Palm Court incident last Sunday, the Indian
authorities are still seething with rage and the Indian media and IT
industry "up in arms" over the police mistreatment of the Indian IT
professional and gross violation of their human rights compounded by the
initial clumsy, maladroit and insensitive responses of government and police
spokesmen, especially the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Home Minister, in
the first five days of the incident.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrabahu Naidu had written a strong
protest to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad over the Palm
Court incident where the Indian professionals, the majority from Andhra
Pradesh, were treated worse than criminals.
Naidu had played host to Mahathir when the Prime Minister led a 25-member
high-level delegation to Andhra Pradesh last October and visited its Hi-tec
City, the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Infosys
and Satyam's technology centre at Bahadurpally.
During his visit to Hyderabad, Mahathir welcomed Indian IT professionals to
Malaysia and in particular to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) to
leverage the huge talent pool in the software sector in India, especially in
Andhra Pradesh, to boost Malaysia's IT development as Malaysia faced
shortages of skilled IT professionals such as software engineers.
The Indian External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha is reported to have
assured Naidu that the Indian government would see that "the guilty
Malaysian law enforcement officers are made to account for their action" as
their behaviour was "uncondonable".
Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam, who was in Hyderabad yesterday to
deliver a lecture, described IT as India's "trump card" and called for
networking of talents to make India a superpower in the field of information
He said: "Today, our IT industry is proud that 260 out of the Fortune 500
companies are its clients. When we march towards a developed India, I would
like the IT industry to lead the march by proclaiming that 260 of the
Fortune 500 companies are Indian MNCs".
Six years ago, when Malaysia proclaimed the MSC as "a gift to the world" and
the centrepiece of the country's strategic initiative to leapfrog the nation
into the IT era, Mahathir was speaking like Kalam about IT as the nation's
"trump card" in the national aspiration and dream to become an IT power.
All such high hopes of becoming an IT power seem to have dissipated, and
what is worse, we are grappling with adverse international publicity after
being bogged down with one deplorable incident after another, like the Palm
Court police mistreatment and human rights violations of Indian IT
professionals casting a long shadow over Malaysia's place in the IT world.
Abdullah must impress on the police the seriousness of the Palm Court
Incident, not only to the police's own national and international image and
credibility, but to the country's economic well-being as well. In fact, the
police should be made to understand that their actions, like the gross
abuses of power in the Palm Court incident, can cause enormous economic
damage to the country to the cost of millions or even tens of millions of
ringgit in undermining national economic recovery efforts and national IT
plans to position Malaysia at the cutting edge of information and
communications revolution so that we can remain internationally competitive.
The government and police must be serious about a full and thorough
investigation into the Palm Court incident and that there would be no
attempt in any "cover-ups", and this is why it is most disappointing that
the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, has not given full
details about the police officers who are conducting the investigation.
It has been reported that the IGP would submit his findings into the Palm
Court incident to Abdullah tomorrow. Is this possible? Until Friday night,
the Indian IT professionals who were victims of the Palm Court police
mistreatment were completely unaware of any police investigations into the
incident. Or could the IGP investigation into the Palm Court incident be
conducted without involving the Indian IT professionals who were the
victims? This seems unthinkable.
In any event, DAP calls for the report of the IGP investigation into the
Palm Court incident to be immediately tabled in Parliament once it has been
completed, so that MPs could debate it in an informed and intelligent manner
- and not in the uninformed and biased fashion as done by some Barisan
Nasional MPs in Parliament on Thursday, which did Parliament and the nation
no credit whatsoever.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National