Ex-senior cop pins vengeful EO inmates for shootings, but rights lawyer disagrees

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 ― Revenge killings by former Emergency Ordinance (EO) detainees are partly behind the new wave of gun violence locally, former federal CID director Tan Sri Zaman Khan suggests, but a civil rights attorney said the suspects once held under the colonial era law were not “murderers or hitmen”.

Zaman Khan (picture) stressed that his was only a hypothesis, but noted that revenge and rivalry appeared to be the primary motives of the recent gun homicides.

“This is possible because probably they came out, find who fixed them up and gave evidence, and are out for revenge,” Zaman told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“As you see from the Arab Bank founder, it’s a dispute. In a number of cases, it’s just rivalry and revenge,” he added, referring to the assassination last Monday of Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi.

Eight shootings have occurred over the past week throughout Malaysia since July 27; five were fatal, including Najadi’s.

Another high-profile victim —crime watchdog MyWatch chief R. Sri Sanjeevan — survived a shooting in Bahau, Negri Sembilan on July 27.

Zaman Khan also noted that firearms were “quite easily” smuggled into the country from Thailand due to Malaysia’s porous borders with its neighbour to the north.

“There are a number of illegal firearms in the country, but I won’t say it’s flooding the market,” he said.

“The recent shootings are indeed a new phenomenon — it looks like hitmen.”

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan, however, said there was no evidence of a correlation between the rise in violent crime and the abolition of the EO that had allowed for detention without trial in 2011.

“A lot of these claims of crimes being committed by ex-EO detainees — we have not seen actual proof of them,” Syahredzan told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

Syahredzan, who has handled EO cases before, also pointed out that most detainees then had been people accused of stealing motorcycles and cars.

“In Simpang Renggam, look at it, it’s not murderers who are in there,” he said, referring to Simpang Renggam Detention Centre that once housed EO and Internal Security Act (ISA) inmates.

“People who are murderers or hitmen — we’ve seen them being charged in court, not detained under EO.”

The lawyer also voiced doubt that the recent shootings were gang-related as authorities have said in their bid to link the incidents to “hardcore” organised crime members for which the EO had ostensibly been reserved.

“Are we looking at an increase in gang activities? I don’t think so,” said Syahredzan.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the police force have attributed the increase in violent crimes to the repeal of the EO, but have declined to provide the data to support their assertion.

The former recently called for the reintroduction of preventive detention laws lost with the repeal of the colonial era law.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also vowed on Tuesday to provide the police “anything” it needs to fight serious crime, including extra powers under a new law that is expected to be tabled in Parliament in September.

On Thursday, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) announced the government’s decision to introduce new interim measures that allow law enforcers to tap into public communications, as well as to snap electronic tracking bracelets on criminal suspects to arrest the rising crime rate.

Opposition lawmakers, however, have censured Putrajaya’s plan to intercept communications for intelligence-gathering, describing the move as “overkill”.

They further contend that Malaysia did not need new laws to combat the growing menace, but only for the police to devote more than just 9 per cent of the force it currently does to crime fighting.