New government, but same old police force

P Ramasamy

Modified 17 Sep 2019, 2:42 am

ADUN SPEAKS | A 7km chase of four people by the police from Batu Caves to Batu Arang in the early hours of last Saturday ended in a shootout, in which three suspected robbers were killed.

The fourth one, a woman, Moganambal Govindasamy, is missing.

The dead are Moganambal’s husband, Janarthanan Vijayaratnam, of Sri Lankan origin who holds a UK permanent resident status and works in the UK, Moganambal’s brother Thavaselvan and their friend Maghendran Santhirasegaran.

While the police are sticking to their version that the three men shot dead were robbers fleeing from the police, the family members might have a different story to tell.

The police under the changed political circumstances must wake up to the idea that the repetition of the old narrative, “there was chase, the robbers shot at the police and the police returned fire resulting in their deaths”, is not acceptable.

The public must know exactly what happened in the Rawang shootings, resulting in the death of two relatives and a friend, and with one woman gone missing.

One of the relatives has claimed that the bodies would not be claimed unless the police can account for the missing woman (Moganambal, on right in photo below, with her husband Janarthanan).

Too many incidents of police shootouts resulting in the deaths of suspected robbers have not gone beyond the testimony of the police.

Other than the versions provided by the police in the shooting incidents, there are no other alternative interpretations as how the so-called robbers met their fate.

Testimonies from family members have been drowned in silence as though they are considered biased and a cover-up of the wrongdoings of their dead relatives.

To date, in the cases of those who died in police shootings, no serious inquiries have been held to ask for police accountability and whether, in the first place, the shootings were justified.

Meanwhile, despite the assurances of the new inspector-general of police, there is no qualitative change in the manner of police operations in the country. Human lives are being lost.

Even with the emergence of the new government and the promise of institutional reforms, some members of the police force are acting with impunity.

Deaths in custody, deaths resulting from police shootouts and other abuses emanating from the uniformed personnel are acts against public interest.

The Batu Arang killings are not the first - and certainly not going to be the last.

But what is important is that the government must initiate a full inquiry to ascertain really what happened.

Were those who were shot dead really robbers or were they merely suspects?

What happened to one of the dead person’s missing wife, Moganambal?

Why would a UK citizen, Janarthanan, who was on a short visit to Malaysia, engage in robbery?

P RAMASAMY is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.