Lawyer: Set up oversight commission now to check police abuse

IPCMC could hear public complaints against police and take disciplinary action without political interference, says SN Nair.

fmt_S-N-Nair_bernama Lawyer: Set up oversight commission now to check police abuse

Lawyer SN Nair says police should only answer to the law and no one else. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged the Pakatan Harapan government to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without delay to deal with public grievances against the law enforcement agency.

SN Nair said Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had yet to declare his stance on the IPCMC despite public uproar over police action against lawyer Siti Kasim.

“Is this government still wanting to maintain old Barisan Nasional (BN) policies of interfering with police investigations?” he asked.

Nair was responding to criticism of his earlier statement to FMT on Monday that the home minister cannot interfere in police investigations.

The former police officer said BN had always wanted the people to believe that ministers, including the prime minister, could meddle in police investigations.

“They cannot be allowed to interfere. Investigations are purely the power given by our laws exclusively to the police.

“If allowed, they can be misused for political purposes like what the previous government did.”

Nair claimed investigations into 1MDB and other cases were stalled because the previous inspector-general of police (IGP) was under the government’s control.

“Worse still, the IGP allowed it to happen when he should not have. Instead, he should have acted fairly without fear or favour,” he said.

Nair said for effective checks and balances, the UK government had formed the Independent Police Authority.

“This is what I have been advocating for years in the form of IPCMC, where commission members are to be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he added.

Nair said all complaints against the police could be handled by the oversight commission, and the sacking of police officers of any rank could be done in a transparent manner without political or ministerial involvement.

Citing the celebrated 1968 UK case of Regina v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, ex parte Blackburn, Nair said the police only answered to the law and to no one else.

The public had pressured Muhyiddin to intervene in Siti’s case, claiming that police had acted in a high-handed manner when they broke into her home and later arrested her.

Siti is alleged to have abducted her client and obstructed the police from carrying out their duties.

However, a magistrate on Sunday dismissed the police’s application to further detain Siti for investigations.

In February 2004, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointed retired chief justice Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah as chairman of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the police.

The following year, the commission submitted 125 recommendations to the government, with the core proposal being the setting up of the IPCMC.

The commission had included in its report a 49-page, 104-section bill with two schedules.

However, the IPCMC did not take off during Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure as prime minister due to claims of sabotage by police officers.

Apart from civil society, the Malaysian Bar has repeatedly called for the setting up of the IPCMC whenever custodial deaths occur.