KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — There remains a legitimate need for Putrajaya to get the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) back on track due to the high rate of deaths in police custody in the past three years, the Malaysian Bar said today.
Malaysian Bar President Christopher Leong said the existing Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) — which was created in 2011 by the government in place of the IPCMC — clearly failed to rein in the rate of custodial deaths, which hit 231 cases or one death every three weeks between 2010 and May 2013.
“There should be no more dithering, delays or excuses. The IPCMC remains as relevant today as it was when the Royal Commission’s report was released in 2005,” he said in his speech at a forum on police accountability in Malaysia.
Leong said the EAIC, which was set up after strong opposition to the IPCMC, is crippled by a list of fundamental weaknesses that make it ineffective in dealing with complaints of misconduct by law enforcement personnel.
He said the EAIC can investigate complaints, but the police can ignore whatever recommendation made by the commission and launch its own internal probe on any complaint levied against the force.
The EAIC is also bogged down by a heavy workload, handling hundreds of complaints lodged over the years while keeping tabs on 19 separate government agencies — all while having just one investigating officer since May last year and a miniscule budget of just over RM7 million each year, he added.
“Last but not least, the six EAIC commissioners who were appointed on April 1, 2011 had their three-year term expire on March 31 this year. To our knowledge, no new commissioners have been appointed to date, rendering the EAIC a commission without any commissioners for the past four months,” Leong said.
The senior lawyer said the ICPMC is the only way the government can address the shortcomings of the EAIC, as it would enable “transparent civilian oversight of, and public accountability by” the police.
He added that the police should also support the creation of the IPCMC if it aspires to become a world-class professional outfit that upholds values of integrity, efficiency, accountability and service.
“It must be courageous enough to submit itself to an independent external oversight commission that is dedicated to the police force.
“Only then can the PDRM develop itself into an institution that lives up to its motto of ‘Tegas, Adil dan Berhemah’ (Firm, Fair and Prudent) and engender consistent respect from all Malaysians,” Leong said.