There are good cops and bad cops, so they say.
But the biggest question on everyone’s mind following the government's attempt to bulldoze several bills related to police powers is: can the police force be professional in executing its duties?
The bills being pushed through Parliament are the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), amendments to the Sedition Act 1948, and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) -
The other related question is: will the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers act professionally in charging a person under these laws?
One has to remember that the body in charge of monitoring the enforcement agencies, namely the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) set up in 2012, does not encompass the AG’s Chambers.
In a democratic and maturing society that we live in, powers and liberty should be awarded more to the people, but the tabling of such new amendments are seen to limit such rights by giving the authorities more powers in their work, albeit rightly or wrongly.
"It is trite law of Malaysia that the Federal Constitution does not permit police officers to kill suspected and/or dreaded criminals by fake encounters. The police are paid through public funds, with a primary duty to arrest criminals and put them on trial.
"They cannot be allowed to roam trigger-happy as this will be in violation of rule of law and the relevant authorities must seriously check such violation."
Consider another quote:
“What appears to have happened was that the police had become the judge and jury of a complaint made against their behaviour in relation to the death-in-custody case.
“This conduct, with respect, misses the point completely and that is the police force at that point in time was ‘on trial’ and to allow the police to determine what ought to be done was simply asking the wrongdoers to do their own investigations and determine the appropriate actions.
“Common sense mitigates against such a course of action.”
Check police violations, not give powers
Both the above quotes did not come from the writer, but from the Court of Appeal, in two sets of different judgments in which the judges condemned police actions and urged the authorities to check the violations. It does not state to grant them more powers.
The first came fromthe case of car repossessor, Abd Jaffar , who was gunned down by the police Special Action Unit in Shah Alam on Sept 2, 2008, after his car was blocked by the police.
A gun was allegedly found in Abd Jaffar's Proton Waja, but there was no gun residue found on the deceased, which means he did not fire a single shot.
There were also conflicting testimonies by police witnesses as to the gun recovered - a Steyr M9 A1 - where two police officers testified that it has a serial number of MOO 2893, but the chemist who examined the gun gave a different serial number - M00 2895.
The Abd Jaffar judgment came from Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer.
Doesn’t this sound familiar to another case of the death of teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah , who was also gunnned down by the police? And, surprise, surprise, a parang was found in the boot of the car, and this matter is now the subject of a current civil suit.
The writer here is not saying that all shooting cases involving the police are the same, where something is planted after the incident, as each has its own facts and circumstances. But such recurrences cannot be ignored.
Judge ticked IGP off
The second quote comes from the A Kugan case , a death in custody case at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya in 2009, for which the former Selangor police chief involved in the case, who is now the present inspector-general of police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar, was admonished.
This was based on Justice David Wong Dak Wah's judgment in the case and based on Khalid's testimony in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, during which Khalid admitted he had negotiated with the AG for investigations into the death to be confined to Section 330 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing hurt, and not Section 302 for murder.
Justice Wong, in his judgment, described the actions of Khalid ( left ) as an affront to fair play and transparency, and the judge further called for an end to custodial deaths. This, the judge wrote on Aug 12 last year.
Has there been a stop to custodial death cases since? As far as this writer can recall there have already been six deaths recorded in the first three months of this year, but according to a reply given in Parliament by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday, only four police personnel have had action taken against them for custodial deaths.
Police caught lying
"We find the evidence of (investigating officer, IO) Jude Blacious Pereira totally unsatisfactory. He was either consciously not telling the truth or suffered from a serious bout of loss of memory."
The matter came about as Jude ( right ), who was the IO in PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II case and who had since retired from the police force, had applied to become a practising lawyer. However, his application was objected by the Bar Council.
Eventually, following an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Jude managed to have the Ipoh High Court allow him to practice law.
This brings us to the latest matter involving IGP Khalid, where his subordinate and murder convict Sirul Azhar Umar has accused the top police officer of the country of lying when Khalid said police officers had met Sirul in Sydney, and that there was nothing new to comment on the case.
Khalid had immediately responded by saying Sirul is a desperate man and challenged the former police corporal, attached to the elite commando unit, to spill the beans. This issue still remains in dispute.
This writer is not challenging the tabling of the various Acts mentioned earlier, which various critics, including international human rights groups, have deemed as curtailing freedom and basic human rights in Malaysia.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had three years ago promised the Sedition Act 1948 would be repealed, only to make a U-turn and move, this year, to strengthen the Act.
The Sedition Act has so far been used against 21 people since last year, mainly against opposition lawmakers, activists, lawyers and an academician.
While I have only cited three cases in which the police came under fire from the judiciary, the courts or coroners from early this year have heavily criticised police actions in custodial death cases, if we look at the C Sugumar , P Chandran and P Karuna Nithi cases.
The Bar Council raised a valid point yesterday by questioning the amendments to the Sedition Act, which it sees as limiting the discretion of the judiciary.
The courts have made their findings against the police and the bigger question now is, have the police improved on that further and increased their professionalism?