Echo Buzz: At the Hands of the Malaysian Police

#PDRMGagal IPCMC Petition

https://www.change.org/p/pdrm-gagal-ipcmc-now-end-police-brutality-and-misconduct-in-malaysia

Police allied Abuse: The Setting


The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) and the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Breathtaking as to the number of laws and standards governing textbook definitions of police officers of the country. 

A.Ganapathy, Sivabalan, Umar Faruq, S.Balamurugan, Surendran and roughly 200 other Malaysians. Breathtaking as to the number of people who have fallen victim to police brutality in Malaysia alone. There were no answers, no apology. Anyone could fall victim. 

Policing the police is no doubt in order, except the notion of public confidence and trust truly underlies the whole policing system. Brutality, abuse, violations of human rights, and custodial death representing most headlines up-to-date have no other intent but to put civilians’ fundamental trust in jeopardy.

Notorious recognition began on July 16, 2008, with the death in custody of Gunasegaran Rajasundaram, one of the first of a handful of police brutality incidents brought to light. 13 years and the victims involved in the terrible and inhumane murder at the hands of ruthless cold-blooded cops were denied a fair trial or the opportunity to defend themselves. Even for those who are “suspected individuals,” the very institution that defends and maintains justice has failed, and the end is still far away.

Not to forget that roughly one out of every four deaths in police custody makes the news, while the others go underground. Clarifying that, notwithstanding the ethnic profiling of Indians being detained, this is a Malaysian issue. It may be under-reported and not widely publicised, but general prejudice through police brutality exists, and the only hope is that everyone will do better.

Stigma Database

The recent 4 consecutive deaths in police custody within the past 2 months alone aroused suspicion one after the other, suspicions that the efforts of the public and media spreading awareness and petitioning for bills are futile. Pride has ever compelled no one to collect current statistics on this issue. The numbers from prior years, on the other hand, are sufficient to shed light on these concerns.  

IPCMC or IPCC? Spare the Rod and Spoil Society

Accountability. A word often known to stir an uncomfortable mixture of fear and relief all at once. People quiver a little at the sound of suspicion surrounding their motives or actions. No one likes to be caught red-handed, whether with fingers bloodied or covered in paint thinner. In the same way, no one likes to be found unjustly treated, or worse – dead at the hands of the people thought to protect.

One could probably suggest that perhaps the thought of the latter was what spurred YAB Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah on 30th April 2005 when he sent a report containing 125 recommendations to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian Police. Among the 125 recommendations, the central proposition was the establishment of a body called the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Thus, the genesis of the ever debated issue of holding our blue jacket men accountable for their actions.

What exactly is the IPCMC bill and what does it entail? The original IPCMC bill was a list of suggestions that revolved around the formation of an independent body that was made of an unbiased, unattached to any organization, group of individuals given the right and means to exercise investigations, and disciplinary action pertaining to complaints surrounding the police. The IPCMC was initially proposed to replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), a Federal Statutory Body that has been described as an “ineffective external body tasked to look into complaints against enforcement agencies”. After being mooted in 2005, the IPCMC has been in constant debate – a tug of war if one might say – amongst the civil society, opposition groups and assemblymen. Fourteen years have passed since its seeding, and some measures have since been executed to reflect the views of the IPCMC bill. The IPCC draft bill was tabled in Parliament in July 2019 however it received much backlash from organisations that criticised it for “granting insufficient powers and independence to ensure its effectiveness.” It is clear that so many public organisations have expressed intense concern and disapproval for the IPCC bill and the EAIC as they seem to only be sallow, inefficient pacifiers for civilians that demand accountability and respect for the heavy task of protecting our society from the guiles of crime. 

Somehow the main issue that has been brought up time and time again whenever the IPCMC is discussed is the absolute reluctance and apprehension authorities have against being investigated and questioned over misconduct and complaints. For instance, the IPCC bill was only tabled because it contained several variations (compared to the IPCMC) concerning the method of taking action after an investigation is conducted. When political efforts had initially reflected in favour of the IPCMC, protests among the police stirred for allocating powers to an independent commission concerned to investigate, determine and take action against accused individuals of the police force. Contrastingly, the IPCC (Independent Police Conduct Commission 2020) claims to inject a variation to the original proposal where it states that “any action after considering the findings and recommendations of the complaints committee will be referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 if misconduct and grounds for further action to be taken is found.” A lengthy commentary of the “variations” the IPCC bill has in comparison to the IPCMC can be found here. However, this just further amplifies the shortcomings this replacement has compared to the IPCMC bill.

Outcry of Injustice

In light of recent reports on police brutality in Malaysia, the public has not ceased to make their voices heard on behalf of the victims of such abuse of power. Amnesty Malaysia has slammed the government countless times and states that the “proposed IPCC Bill is a shameful step backwards in ensuring police accountability”. Malaysiakini has written several letters demanding the reinstatement of the IPCMC bill in Parliament’s list of debates, in hopes that this time perhaps it sees favourably upon the majority of the members of Dewan Rakyat. Independent and anti-corruption organisations have spoken out about their disdain for the current affairs of police brutality and netizens alike have agreed. Petitions have also been spread around to raise awareness and build public strength to push for the IPCMC bill to be tabled.

There has since been no greater time for such a bill to show a significant shift in the air surrounding police misconduct and brutality against civilians. Recent events have shown that the issue surrounding the IPCMC bill was the reputation of the police at stake and lawmakers expressed concerns that demanded more time to be allocated for the debating of this bill. However, the public has already been proven that once “more debate” ensues it is likely that another watered-down version of the bill will be brought up and implemented under the guise that it will solve today’s burning issues of police brutality. The majority of the public has made their stance crystal clear on the issue: the IPCMC bill is crucial in ensuring that these incidents of police brutality are not repeated or escalated into something far more lethal. 

When people’s lives are at stake, does the reputation of authority bodies really matter? When the public has already witnessed enough instances of violence and has heartily voiced their concerns, along with many more independent bodies, assemblymen and organisations, is it even politically correct to deny them the justice they seek? 

Sources:

History in Parliament as IPCMC Bill is first to be referred to Special Select Committee for consideration

New Bill to replace IPCMC Bill to be tabled on Aug 26, says Hamzah

Official Portal of The Parliament of Malaysia –

In place of IPCMC, proposed IPCC does not afford disciplinary powers

Written by: Hannah & Jamie

Edited by: Maki

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