Is EPF withholding
announcement of lowest dividend in 40 years until Iraq war so as to attract
minimum adverse reactions from the 10.3 million EPF contributors and to
distract demand for a new policy of EPF accountability, transparency and
by Lim Kit Siang
DAP calls on Indian Government to
rescind its decision to withdraw the Indian team from the Azlan Shah Hockey
Tournament especially at a time when Asian countries should demonstrate
their solidarity in the face of the unjust and illegal US-led unilateral war
An hour before midnight last night, the Home Ministry through Bernama issued
a statement admitting police "shortcomings" in the Palm Court Incident where
Indian IT professionals were roughed up in the police operations in
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur on 9th March, 2003 and promised investigation and
disciplinary action against police officers who failed to abide by
procedures during the inspection of foreign workers.
In the statement, the Home Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Aseh Che
Mat said "the police apologized over this matter" and "the Home Ministry
expresses deep regret over the inconvenience experience by those detained".
While I commend the Home Ministry for making a serious attempt to address
the Palm Court Incident which had plunged Malaysia-India relations to an
all-time low, I do not find it completely satisfactory as its grudging
admission of "shortcomings" appeared to be prompted more by pressures
emanating from the escalating Malaysia-India diplomatic row than a genuine
commitment to clean up systemic police abuses in the country.
The Home Ministry should not just be apologizing for the "inconvenience
experienced by those detained" but for the gross human rights violations and
the humiliations suffered by the Indian IT professionals in the Palm Court
Aseh said that from the " thorough investigation" by the police into the
Palm Court Incident, only 36 people had been handcuffed and "there were no
incidents of physical abuse against those detained". This is an increase
from the earlier admission that only 12 Indian IT professionals had been
handcuffed after an "initial investigation" by the police as announced by
the Kuala Lumpur city deputy chief Datuk Ahmad Bahrin Idrus last Tuesday,
when he denied any police mistreatment in the Palm Court Incident.
The "thorough investigation" of the police is as suspect as its "initial
investigation" as from my personal interviews with the Indian IT
professionals, it is clear that more than 36 of them had been handcuffed as
the police ran out of handcuffs and the other Indian IT professionals were
hand-tied with other restraining bands.
The claim that "there were no incidents of physical abuse against those
detained" could be easily proven false if all the Indian IT professionals
mistreated in the Palm Court incident had been called to give individual
testimony - which had not been done and is the Achilles heel of the
so-called "thorough investigation" by the police.
Aseh's statement that "the failure of the police to take along the
identification document verification equipment (ultra-violet light) resulted
in the inspection of the documents having to be conducted manually and this
resulted in the defacing of several of the professional visit passes" is
unacceptable as from earlier reports, it is clear that the police in
Brickfields did not have any ultra-violet light document verification
equipment, and that the defacement of the visa passes was not accidental but
willful and gross abuse of power. As Ahmad Bahrin as good as admitted last
Tuesday, it was the immigration officials who went with their ultra-violet
light equipment to the Brickfields police station after some 10 hours of the
police mistreatment to certify that the visas of the Indian IT professionals
were genuine and valid and not fakes.
However, I welcome the Home Ministry's acceptance of the DAP proposal to
send an immigration team to Palm Court to replace the defaced visas, and
hoped that our futher proposal that the Immigration waive the RM90 visa
renewal fee, or that the Police pay for them, would also be accepted as the
IT professionals should not be penalized for the willful police defacement
of their visas.
Although I am not completely satisfied with the measures which had been
taken by the authorities on the deplorable Palm Court Incident so far, a new
start has been made since the intervention of the Acting Prime Minister,
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last Friday, expressing regret over the
incident and injecting a proper seriousness and sensitivity into Ministerial
and government responses.
DAP has been very concerned by the escalation of the diplomatic row between
Malaysia and India, the latest being the last-minute pull-out of India from
the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, as well as talk of other Indian
retaliatory measures, including reviewing the landing rights of Malaysia
Airlines and preferential tariffs on the imports of palm oil from Malaysia.
As it is impossible to completely undo what has happened in the deplorable
Palm Court Incident, DAP calls on the Indian Government to take positive
steps to restore the impaired Malaysia-India relations, starting with the
rescission of the Indian Government decision to withdraw the Indian team
from the Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament especially at a time when Asian
countries should demonstrate their solidarity in the face of the unjust and
illegal US-led unilateral war against Iraq
The Malaysian Government on its part should ensure that it would live up to
its international commitments by following up with a third but truly
thorough-going investigation into the Palm Court incident, whose report
should be made public together with the actions which had been taken against
the police officers found guilty of abuses of power in the mistreatment of
the Indian IT professionals.
There are many lessons to be learnt by the Malaysian authorities from the
Palm Court Incident apart from addressing the systemic problem of abuses of
power by the police.
Abdullah should also 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.
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 to promote
tourism, attract foreign investments and achieve national IT plans to
position Malaysia at the cutting edge of information and communications
revolution so that we can remain internationally competitive.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National