MARCH 13 — It is highly imperative for the ministers and government officials to be careful in releasing important facts and figures, especially in relation to any information that only the government is privy to.
However, here in Malaysia, the lackadaisical attitude in ensuring the trustworthiness of such data, is inevitably worrying.
On Monday, via a written reply to DAP MP Kasthuri Patto, Home Affairs minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi revealed that there have been 1,654 custodial deaths in Malaysia, since 2010 until February this year.
This essentially means that on average, there have been approximately 19 custodial deaths every single month since 2010.
He also provided a racial breakdown of the total custodial death figure. About 63 per cent of those who died behind the bars were Malays and about 11 per cent were foreigners.
Not only did the parliamentary answer presented a rude shock to many, it has also sparked confusion due to conflicting available information on custodial deaths.
Barely a year, the same minister provided a written parliamentary reply in response to DAP MP Teo Nie Ching, which stated that a total of 98 custodial deaths were registered between 2010 and September 2016.
How is it possible for the deaths in custody to rise to 1,654 (2010-Feb 2017) when only 98 deaths have been recorded for the total period of 2010-September 2016?
Is the Home Minister suggesting that 1,556 custodial deaths have occurred within merely 5 months (October 2016 — February 2017)?
This apparent conflicting official data, brings to the forefront the lack of credibility of the information sourced directly from the government.
It is appalling that even the lawmakers receive non-credible information in the august legislature.
Apart from the conflicting information, it is disheartening that custodial death is still prevalent in Malaysia, despite the brouhaha it has created for many years.
The revelation by the Home Ministry puts forward two important questions. Are we serious in tackling custodial deaths in Malaysia and will we see the end of it anytime soon?
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.