Commission interim report should be made public to set an example of mindset
change in an information society and to involve the entire nation in the
goal to achieve a world-class police force to roll back the serious crime
wave robbing Malaysians of their fundamental rights to freedom from crime
and fear of crime
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): In announcing that the Special Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police will present its first report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail at the Istana Negara on Friday, the Commission secretary Datuk Hamzah Md Ros said that as the document was a work in progress, it would not as yet be made available to the public.
DAP calls on the Police Royal Commission interim report to be made public simultaneously it is presented to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to set an example of mindset change in an information society and to involve the entire nation in the goal to achieve a world-class police force to roll back the serious crime wave robbing Malaysians of their fundamental rights to freedom from crime and the fear of crime.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said yesterday that the government wants the police to set up a forensics accounting unit to effectively combat white-collar crimes and corruption, and that it is good to have a parliamentary select committee to discuss the more effective enforcement against commercial crime and amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code in a comprehensive manner and involving all MPs, irrespective of their parties.
Is Abdullah referring to the Parliamentary Select Committee set up last month to seek public feedbacks on the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code Amendment Bills tabled in Parliament to counter sex crimes and terrorism, headed by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad and comprising six other MPs, Teresa Kok Suh Sim (DAP – Seputeh) and BN MPs, Tan Ah Heng (Gelang Patah), Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong), Devasamy a/l S. Krishnasamy (Cameron Highlands), Donald Peter Mojuntin (Penamang) and Che Min Che Ahmad (Pasir Puteh)?
Or is Abdullah thinking of a completely separate Parliamentary Select Committee to deal with the larger question of rolling back the serious crime wave which has robbed Malaysians of their most fundamental rights to be free from crime and the fear of crime, and now, the added agenda of a more effective enforcement against white-collar crime and corruption? Nobody seems to really know.
Currently, there is already confusion galore as to the actual scope and terms of reference of the Select Committee headed by Radzi.
The original intention of the Cabinet decision on May 12, 2004 was for the Select Committee to seek public opinion on the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to deal with sexual violence and crime, in proposing a broader definition of rape, the time allowed for investigations and the police powers of arrest.
When Parliament approved the establishment of the Select Committee to review amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code, the subject-matters were broadened from sexual offences and status of police investigations to include terrorism.
On Saturday in Langkawi, the media reported that the Prime Minister has ordered the formation of a parliamentary select committee to look into the spate of vicious crimes in the country, asking the select committee to empower the people to help the government to clamp down on criminals.
Is the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by Radzi being given another new term of reference in a matter of three days, to deal with sophisticated white collar crimes and corruption – apart from dealing with the whole spectrum of the problem of rolling back the crime wave, which must involve not only legislation but also police reforms to ensure a world-class police force capable of restoring to Malaysians their lost freedoms from crime and the fear of crime, as well as a National Policing Plan to involve community efforts to fight crime?
If so, then it is necessary to amend and expand the terms of reference of the Select Committee to go beyond reviewing the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code contained in the two amendment bills, as well as to look into the proper staffing and research support that must be provided to the Select Committee if it is to do a good job.
Alternatively, a completely separate Parliamentary Select Committee to make recommendations to roll back the rampant crime wave, including white-collar crime and corruption, is needed. This is probably the better option as the Radzi parliamentary select committee is too narrowly focused on four specific provisions in the proposed Penal Code and CPC Amendment Bills on sex crimes, status of police investigations and terrorism.
In any event, the growing confusion about the actual scope and terms of reference of the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by Radzi should be resolved immediately, as the Select Committee is scheduled to begin public hearings on August 16 to 19 at the Parliament building, to be followed by sessions in Johore, Malacca, Ipoh, Penang, Kedah, Sabah and Sarawak.
The Select Committee should make clear whether in its public hearings, it would welcome representations not only just about the subject-matters referred to in the two Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code Amendment Bills, but any matter relating to crime and the breakdown of law-and-order in the country.
This confusion has been compounded not only by the recent statements by Abdullah, but also an earlier statement by Radzi, who said last week that the Select Committee would also focus on addressing the differences in the implementation of Syariah Law in the various States. (New Straits Times 26.7.04)
The Select Committee should give clear guidance to the non-governmental organisations, the public and other bodies it has invited to submit their suggestions and memorandums on proposed amendments to the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2004 and the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2004 what exactly is its scope and terms of reference.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman