MP SPEAKS | The objections raised by the police to the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is unfounded and ought not to take precedence over the bigger interest and priority of setting up the said body, namely to bolster transparency and accountability of the police.
With more than 1,800 deaths in custody cases from 2010 to 2017 and the recent findings of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were victims of enforced disappearance, it is high time that a body with sufficient and effective investigative powers be established to monitor disciplinary issues when it comes to the police which will, undoubtedly, improve its efficiency and serve as an avenue for the public to air their grievances and complaints pertaining to police misconduct.
Having independent bodies to oversee complaints pertaining to the police is nothing new.
In England, for example, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was introduced to replace the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to allow the public to register complaints directly to it, instead of first receiving a referral from a police constabulary.
The Director-General of the IOPC, Michael Lockwood, was absolutely right in saying: “Public confidence in policing is best served by robust and independent oversight. People need to know that when things go wrong or serious allegations are made about police officers, they will be thoroughly investigated by a truly independent body.”
The fear that the establishment of the IPCMC would take away certain rights of the police under Article 140 of the Federal Constitution also misses the point that the said Article recognises that the police themselves must be subject to public scrutiny and disciplinary control by stating as follows: “Provided that Parliament may by law provide for the exercise of such disciplinary control over all or any of the members of the police in such manner and by the Prime Minister, and may once refer the recommendation back to the Commission in order that it may be reconsidered.”
Such a proviso clearly recognises that the Police Commission itself may require guidance and recommendations from an independent body when carrying out disciplinary control over members of the police.
Ultimately, the establishment of the IPCMC must surely be a step in the right direction in any democracy, as the same encourages transparency and accountability of the police, which should be the main priority. It is one of the ways to create a world-class police organisation, which is not prone to abuse, as it will be aware that it is being watched and can be investigated by an independent body.
It is hoped the government carries out its promise to set up the IPCMC without any further delay, which I am certain will go down as one of its greatest achievements.
RAMKARPAL SINGH is Bukit Gelugor MP and chairperson of DAP’s National Legal Bureau.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.