KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — The proposed Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill will become toothless if the government does not make sweeping changes to the way it will be run, human rights watchdog Suaram said today.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the IPCC had too many restrictions put on it that would hinder investigations, and the government would look bad if it proceeds with implementing the IPCC in June since a lot of issues would still go unresolved.
“We don't know if it's coming in June but if the government continues with it then the message is clear, they will look bad since there's so much to resolve first before bringing the IPCC to light,” he said during Suaram's annual report launch, referring to IPCC.
“The key is the appointment of the commissioners. One bad appointment is all it needs to bring the whole thing down. You need a commissioner or IPCC will end up like the appointments of Suhakam commissioners, they end up going nowhere, no progress.”
Suaram said only the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) would hold the police accountable following the revelation of the prevalence of alleged corrupt practices within the law enforcement agency.
According to the IPCC Bill, the proposed commission will not have disciplinary powers when dealing with police misconduct and fell under the Home Ministry's purview instead of the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law).
Suaram said many have argued that the formation of the IPCMC was unnecessary as the police were more than capable to discipline themselves, but it has been proven that police were prone to abuse their power if there were no other institutions to keep them in check.
Suaram's case management and campaign coordinator Wong Yan Ke said regardless of its name, the process and method of appointment of the commissioners was crucial.
“Whatever the name the agency's independence must be preserved. If the appointment is made by the home minister it means there's still political interference or interventions. Next come investigative powers. If you're not allowed under IPCC to visit a jail or lockup, make emergency checks or visits it allows the authorities time to fabricate evidence," said Wong.
“If IPCC comes into play a lot of red tape will be present making it extremely difficult to do anything as it'll cause delays. Not to mention you won't have rights to search and seizure meaning the authorities can destroy evidence," Wong said.
The controversial IPCC Bill was tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail’s predecessor Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin and passed in Parliament in July 2022, replacing the earlier IPCMC Bill proposed by the first Pakatan Harapan government.
With the IPCC, all complaints to the commission following investigations by its members would just then be submitted to a complaints committee, whose findings and recommendations may either be forwarded to relevant agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) or the commission could direct a task force to carry out further investigations.