COMMENT | What do Ho Kay Tat, the publisher of The Edge, Jahabar Sadiq, the managing editor of Malaysian Insight and Najib Abdul Razak, the former prime minister, have in common?
All three are products of the St Johns Institution in Kuala Lumpur and at one time or another; all three were arrested and spent a night in the lock-up, paid for by His Majesty’s government.
That’s where the similarities end. Ho and Jahabar were handcuffed and donned purple police lock-up uniform while Najib walked swinging his arms and avoided wearing the bright orange suit usually made available – courtesy of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
When Najib’s then deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was arrested, he too “escaped” the uniform and the handcuffs. On the contrary, other “VIP” detainees like former Tabung Haji chairperson Abdul Azeez Rahim, former Felda chairperson Isa Samad and Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal were paraded in uniform with their hands cuffed.
It is an irony that the man who defended the use of the lock-up uniform – Zahid – was one of those “privileged” to be accorded the luxury of a silk batik shirt sans the handcuffs.
An irony too that the current director of commercial crime, Amar Singh Ishar Singh (the man investigating Najib), had said the handcuffing accused persons is part of the police standard operating procedure (SOP).
"It is our SOP to handcuff anyone detained - whether to escort them to the police station or the court. There is no special treatment given to anyone as we carry out our duties without fear or favour," he was quoted by The Star as saying when addressing concerns over journalists being handcuffed in the October 2015 swoop. He was then deputy federal CID director.
In December last year, Zahid thumped the tables to assert that uniform worn by criminal detainees are proper and legal, citing the powers vested in the inspector-general of police (IGP). It empowered him to issue Standing Orders under Section 97 of the Police Act which state: The Inspector General may issue administrative orders, to be called “Standing Orders”, not inconsistent with this Act or rules or Police Regulations made thereunder, for the general control, direction and information of the Force and of all bodies established or raised for police duties under this Act.
Unfortunately, these Standing Orders are classified and hence, no details are available. It must be said the prison rules allow for remand prisoners to wear civilian clothes and prison uniform is compulsory only for convicted...