Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Furious Ex-commissioner's Opinions!

Ex-royal commissioner: 'Mutated' bill a mockery
Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Dec 18, 07 1:24pm

The government’s move to set up the Special Complaints Commission (SCC) amounts to an insult to the rakyat, said ex-Transparency International Malaysia head Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim.

Having served on the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, he also sees it as an insult to himself and it is not hard to understand why.

The commission had proposed the creation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to tackle complaints of abuse of power by the police force.

This has, however, mutated into the much diluted SCC to oversee the conduct of all enforcement agencies. The Bill was tabled for the first reading last Thursday and was rushed through for the second reading today, with the Dewan Rakyat scheduled to adjourn tomorrow.

“Their (government) action shows that they have taken the rakyat and us members of the Royal Commission for fools,” noted a disappointed Aziz (photo) in a hard-hitting speech at a forum on the SCC organised by opposition party DAP in Kuala Lumpur last night.

The forum saw some 80 participants engaging in a lively question-and-answer session with the panelists.

Aziz, who was visibly upset, said the efforts of the royal commission in drafting the IPCMC bill - to ensure that Malaysians have an efficient police force - have proved useless now that the “perverted” SCC is to replace the envisaged watchdog.

“This SCC is fraudulent in the sense that it utterly lacks independence and powerless to act as guarantor of a first-class, incorruptible and accountable police force.” he said.

DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang, also a panelist, had earlier confirmed that the explanatory statement in the SCC Bill states that it is the result of the IPCMC proposal.

A force that money cannot buy

Aziz, who did not mince his words at the forum, also took issue with the proposed composition of the SCC.

“How can you have independence when the members are to be appointed by the prime minister and include those who have a vested interest like the (police chief), a person with corruption allegations (hanging over his head)?” he argued.

Section 4 of the SCC Bill states that the commission will comprise a chairperson appointed by the prime minister, the Inspector-General of Police, the Anti-Corruption Agency chief, Public Complaints Bureau head, and three others also appointed by the premier.

Aziz revealed that the 16 members of the police royal commission were unanimous in the need for an IPCMC.

“There was not one dissenting voice to set up an independent police complaints and misconduct commission,” he said of the panel which included eminent legal minds such as former lord president Salleh Abas, former chief justice Dzaiddin Abdullah and ex-Bar Council president Khutubul Zaman Bukhari.

“Yet the government today has seen fit to change all that. It is a mockery. It shows total disdain for fairness, justice and equity. It shows total disrespect for public opinion. This is not the sort of document we want to see as part of our laws in this country.

“In fact, it is an insult to Parliament itself. So to say I’m disappointed is a really an understatement. I think this sense of disappointment, the sense of quiet outrage is shared by all right-thinking people - hoping that at long last this would be a rare opportunity for Malaysia to change the way the police work in this country.

According to Aziz, there is no police force in the world that has been known to be able to police itself.

“That is why you need this independent oversight group or committee. Obviously, if this bill goes through, we can say goodbye to all these high hopes and aspirations that one day we would have the best police force that money cannot buy.”

A 'toothless body'

Panelist Edmund Bon, who chairs the Bar Council Human Rights Committee, said the SCC will be a “toothless body with no real power to ensure police accountability”.

“The SCC should be called the Special ‘Referral’ Commission instead, as it will only have power to refer complaints to existing enforcement agencies which, in turn, have questionable integrity. It will be like a post-box.” he said.

“This commission will be a passive one unlike the proposed IPCMC which (would have had teeth) to act and punish the misconduct of police officers.”

Also on the panel were Param Cumaraswamy, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

The session concluded with unanimous support for deferring the SCC Bill until wide public consultation can be conducted. Lim said he would try and get the Bill deferred to March next year.

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