By : JOSEPH BINGKASAN
KOTA KINABALU: DAP Sabah has backed calls for the implementation of the long overdue Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to solve once and for all the scandalously high rate of deaths in police custody.
Flagging statistic, state party chairman Jimmy Wong said the situation had worsened since year 2000.
Wong, who is also Kota Kinabalu MP, said that death rate worsened to 16.6 persons per year between January 2005 and May 2013. He noted that 141 persons died in police custody during that period.
He said between January 2000 and December 2004 figure of deaths in custody stood at 80, which was just over one death a month or an average of 16 people annually during the period.
Speaking to FMT here today, Wong said: “DAP Sabah supports the urgent action because the most basic role of any police force is to protect life and property.
“It doesn’t make any sense to anyone to find a rising statistic of Malaysians losing their lives in police custody on a continuous basis. The basic tenet of any democracy is the separation of powers between the police and the Court. But where is it?”
Isn’t the role of the police to bring suspected offenders before the court alive and the court decides guilt or innocence and in case of conviction, decides on the punishment ?
Wong added that if people are dying in police custody, then it looked like a small number of police officers are usurping the role of the court and it is an abuse of power.
He said it is high time that police officers involved were dragged to court as suspected offenders and to allow the court to determine their guilt or innocence.
The IPCMC, he said, does not target the Police Force but “is designed purely to discipline violators, prevent further occurrence and bring justice to the victims, like any other law”.
“It is puzzling why the government has been reluctant to act,” Wong said, adding DAP Sabah fears scores more may die in police detention without justice in the coming years.
Some 141 people have died in custody in the eight years since the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission’s proposed IPCMC in 2005.
DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang had earlier proposed two methods that would help pave the way to the adoption of the IPCMC proposal immediately.
First, he said, the Cabinet should set up a Cabinet Committee which would be given two weeks to submit final recommendations to the Cabinet on June 19 for acceptance and implementation of the IPCMC proposal.
This means the Cabinet policy could be announced as part of a host of new government policies and proposals in the Royal Address in Parliament on June 25.
Another method would be to allow MPs to have a free vote on the IPCMC proposal in the first meeting of the 13th Parliament which is to meet for 16 days from June 24 to July 18.
Lim has said that the establishment of the IPCMC can become a reality if there were 23 BN MPs who are prepared to join the 89 Pakatan Rakyat MPs to support the case.
All four MIC MPs and also MCA vice-president, Gan Peng Sieu, have said they support the IPCMC proposal.
“It could become law if all MPs were allowed to vote according to their conscience to end the scandalous deaths in police custody which no Malaysians tolerate. The Government must not make themselves the exceptions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wong said DAP Sabah is happy to note that Pakatan Rakyat had taken the initiative to set up a six-member IPCMC Parliamentary Task force to spearhead the establishment of the IPCMC in the 13th Parliament.
The six MPs in the Pakatan IPCMC Parliamentary Task force are M Kulasegaran (AP-Ipoh Barat), Gobind Singh Deo (DAP –Puchong), N. Surendran (PKR- Padang Serai)’ Shamsul Iskandar – (PKR- Bukit Katil), Mohamed Hanifa Maidin ( PAS- Sepang), Siti Mariah Mahmud – (PAS – Kota Raja).
“DAP Sabah also support Lim’s call to BN MPs nationwide and Sabah to form a similar IPCMC Parliamentary Task Force to do a common good.
“We also support Lim’s call to Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi to desist from delaying action by asking for time to study the issue because the issue has already been over-studied,” Wong said.