Deputy Police Royal Commission Chairman and Former IGP Hanif Omar should first clarify his position on the human rights responsibilities of the police as he must bear the greatest responsibility for a grave and long-standing police human rights violation - the 25-year ban on public rallies
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): DAP welcomes the first decision of the Police Royal Commission to conduct its proceedings in a public, open and transparent manner except for certain aspects of its hearing concerning privacy which will be in camera.
The first test of the openness and transparency of the Police Royal Commission will be on Monday when it meets the police to inquire into the police role and responsibilities in enforcing the law.
There can be no cogent or acceptable reason why the presentation to the Commission by the Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar and the force’s heads of departments could not be held in public, in the full view of the media to be reported for the benefit of all concerned Malaysians.
If necessary, Bakri can ask for the Commission to adjourn in camera if he wants to deal with subjects which he regards as of great sensitivity because of public security considerations – but this should not be necessary at all as such matters would virtually be outside its terms of reference of the Commission to restore public confidence in the professionalism, effectiveness and trustworthiness of the police force to provide a world-class police service to defend and uphold the fundamental rights of Malaysians to be free from crime and the fear of crime as well as to be the custodian of a just law and order and the upholder of the Rukunegara objective of a democratic way of life in Malaysia.
As one of the six terms of reference of the Commission is “to investigate human rights related issues, including those involving women which come under the purview of the police”, the Inspector-General Police should be asked on Monday to spell out the police stand and record on human rights, and in particular, why the police had adopted such a contemptuous attitude towards various SUHAKAM reports recommending police reforms vis-ŕ-vis human rights.
Bakri should be asked what the Police had done specifically with regard to two SUHAKAM reports which have been collecting dust for the past two-and-a-half years, firstly its 66-page report into the Kesas Highway gathering in November 2000 and findings of widespread police violations of human rights; and secondly, the Suhakam report on the freedom of assembly – both released in August 2001!
Both these two Suhakam reports had called on the police to review its crowd control and dispersal techniques and to act with restraint and not to resort to excessive or unreasonable force.
Is Bakri prepared at the Commission hearing on Monday, after more than three years, to tender a public apology for the widespread police violations of human rights at the Kesas Highway Incident as established by the Suhakam public inquiry report?
However, even before the police presentation of its role and responsibilities in enforcing the law to the Commission on Monday, the Deputy Police Royal Commission Chairman and former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar should first clarify his position on the human rights responsibilities of the police as he must bear the greatest responsibility for a grave and long-standing police human rights violation - the 25-year ban on public rallies.
It was Hanif who had announced the ban on public rallies before the 1978 general election on the flimsy pretext of the impending 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) armed insurrection in July 1948 with the police expecting disturbances and unrest.
The 30th CPM anniversary came and went without a single untoward incident, but the ban on public rallies, announced as temporary and specific to deal with the 30th CPM anniversary, has continued to this day for a quarter of a century – for some 15 years under Hanif as IGP, even after the signing of the Haadyai Accord 1989 ending the CPM armed insurrection!
Hanif should declare his stand on the 25-year police ban on public rallies, which concerns the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression, as it is intimately related to the credibility and credentials of the Police Royal Commission members.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman