Suaram: Ex-IGP's comments on home minister's alleged interference shows urgent need for police reform

Suaram executive director Sevan Doriasamy speaks during a question and answer session in Kuala Lumpur May 4, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Suaram executive director Sevan Doriasamy speaks during a question and answer session in Kuala Lumpur May 4, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The recent revelation by former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador that he allegedly experienced political interference from Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin is a clear indication of the need for police reform in the country, said Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

The human rights NGO's executive director Sevan Doriasamy said Abdul Hamid's remarks indicated a clear abuse of power.

“We call upon the home minister to explain this interference, particularly since he is chairing the Police Force Commission (SPP),” he said during the launch of Suaram's Human Rights Report 2020 at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Sevan said Hamzah's interference means he had differing interests compared to what was proposed by the former IGP.

“It was discussed before that the IGP should have more powers to decide on various issues within the police force, including on cartels, the misuse of power in the police force, and corruption.

“But if the former IGP himself does not really trust the Integrity and Standard Compliance Department (JIPS), it only serves to highlight the need for an Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC),” he said.

On April 15, Abdul Hamid claimed in an interview that JIPS had previously conducted cover-ups to hide the misdeeds of police personnel, adding that several of its officers had been given favours and subsequently allowed the providers to escape discipline and justice, rather than face charges or transfers from their positions.

Sevan said Suaram still remains firm in advocating the establishment of the IPCMC, since “we cannot get the police to investigate the police”.

“Already we have recorded numerous cases of deaths in custody, particularly with the recent case of A. Ganapathy, as well as torture cases, and misuse of remand procedures.

“This only serves to drive home the fact that the need for the IPCMC is one of the highest needs for the country now,” he said.

Suaram's programme coordinator Mohammad Alshatri noted that the SPP appears to be failing in its duties.

“They rarely convene, sometimes for only half an hour or so. Nothing much is discussed during these SPP meetings.

“In cases of police abuse, it should involve vigorous investigations by experienced people. I am concerned that if no definitive steps towards reform are taken, then the IPCMC will suffer the same fate as SPP even when it is implemented,” he said.

Mohammad added that since the Perikatan Nasional administration took over in February last year, there has been no room for consultations among NGOs and civil society organisations over the IPCMC.

“Prior to that, NGOs, civil society organisations, and even former police personnel associations were asked to come in for open consultations to make their voices and concerns heard.

“Again, I stress that there is a need to ensure the IPCMC is truly independent and filled with people who are well-versed in issues pertaining to abuse of power by the police and corruption. Otherwise nothing will really change,” he said.

Yesterday, during an interview, Abdul Hamid alleged that Hamzah's interference included seeking to determine who will lead the Special Branch Department (SB) ostensibly for political gain.

He added that the minister has also been meddling with some of SB's operations which has caused others in the department to become unhappy with Hamzah, though Abdul Hamid provided no further details.

In turn, Hamzah's efforts were purportedly thwarted when SB refused to participate on grounds of not being in line with the department's mandate of preserving and managing national security, instead reporting it to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin was reported to have agreed with the SB, which angered Hamzah and led him to arrange for a former senior SB officer to be made department director, an individual said to be compliant with the minister's wishes and instructions.

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