Police Royal Commission should hold all its proceedings in public apart from exceptional cases - its first Monday session in camera was a great disappointment which violated its assurance to be open and transparent
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The first session of the 16-member Police Royal Commission chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah is a great disappointment, as it was held in camera and violated its assurance to be open and transparent in its proceedings.
On Monday, the Royal Commission held a closed-door session at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman for a presentation by the Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar as well as by director of management Commissioner Datuk Kamaruddin Ali, deputy director (1) of Internal Security and Public Order Deputy Commissioner Datuk Arthur Edmonds and Deputy Commissioner Datuk Zainal Mohd Tahir.
Next Tuesday, the Royal Commission will go back to Bukit Aman to enable the Criminal Investigation Department, Special Branch and Narcotics Department to give a briefing on their operations.
The first session of the Commission raised two questions:
Firstly, why wasn’t it held in public because of three grounds:
Secondly, why was the briefing held at Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman and not at a neutral place to underline the independence of the Police Royal Commission?
The holding of all the Police Royal Commission proceedings in public apart from exceptional cases is also important in allowing the public to observe and judge the conduct and performance of the commissioners, which is crucial and critical in maintaining public confidence that the commissioners are independent, impartial, professional and diligent in discharging their duties.
For instance, Malaysians are entitled to know whether the Commissioners have demanded satisfactory explanation from Bakri and other top police officers as to how they could 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”, have Bakri and other top police officers spelt 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-à-vis human rights.
Has the Commission demanded satisfactory explanation as to 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.
The Police Royal Commission should hold all its proceedings in public if it is to be true to its assurance to be open and transparent, apart from exceptional cases where the Commission can adjourn in camera in matters of great sensitivity because of public security considerations, which should only be allowed in a special application approved by the majority of the Commissioners.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman