Cabinet tomorrow should empanel an independent commission of inquiry to investigate into the police report lodged against IGP Norian Mai for providing “false and fabricated information” leading to the ISA detention of the Reformasi activists in April last year as it is ridiculous for  the police to investigate the police chief

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Tuesday): The Cabinet tomorrow should empanel an independent commission of inquiry to investigate  into the police report lodged against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP)  Tan Sri Norian Mai for providing “false and fabricated information” to Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi resulting in their detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), as it is ridiculous for the police to investigate the police chief.  

The police report, lodged yesterday in Kuala Lumpur  by families of six reformasi activists held under the ISA, charged that the IGP’s information subsequently led to Abdullah signing the two-year detention order for the five.

Eleven days ago on Sept 6, the Federal Court hearing a habeas corpus application ruled that five of the reformasi detainees' initial 60-day detention was unlawful and held that the police had acted mala fide  or  in “bad faith” in detaining them for an ulterior political motive  unconnected with national security.

The four Federal Court judges led by the Chief Justice Tun Mohamad Dzaiddin unanimously held that the reformasi activists were detained “because of their political beliefs and not because they were a threat to national security”, referring in particular  to  Norian Mai’s press statement of 11th April 2001 alleging  that  the reformasi activists were involved in a “reformasi movement” which “planned to topple the government through large-scale street demonstrations and was prepared to act militantly by adopting various measures such as: (I)  obtaining  explosives including bombs and grenade launchers; (ii) used molotov cocktails, ball bearings and other dangerous objects to attack security forces and create disturbances during  street demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur in October 1998; (iii) acquired the assistance of silat instructors and influenced a number of former security forces personnel to join their movement”.

The police had failed to produce any iota of evidence, not only in the court of law but even more important, in the court of public opinion in the past 16 months that the reformasi activists were in any manner involved in the alleged militant plot for the violent overthrow of the elected government – producing no bombs, grenade launchers, Molotov cocktails or even “dangerous” ball-bearings.

In countries where the government has scrupulous regard and respect for the rule of law, two things would have ensued from such a judgment from the highest court of the land that the ISA detentions were “for an ulterior political  purpose and unconnected with the national security”:

Firstly, the immediate release of the four reformasi activists still under detention under the ISA, namely Mohd Ezam, Tian Chua,  Saari Sungib and Hishamuddin Rais as  there is only one preventive detention and when the police detention under section 73 of the ISA is quashed as mala fide and unlawful, the Ministerial order of detention under section 8 is equally tainted and unlawful and cannot stand.

Secondly, resignation or at minimum a public apology by the police chief who has been found by the judiciary as having acted mala fide in the application of a draconian law such as the ISA.

None of these two events had taken place in Malaysia. Instead, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim and the Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman (behaving more  as former Attorney-General than as chief Human Rights Commissioner)  conspicuously disregarded the substantive  injustice of the ISA detentions by focusing only on the so-called procedural or technical defect as if to alert the police that they must be able to cover up their  mala fide exercise of  powers without being caught out in a legal challenge in the future.

It is a sad commentary of the lowly place occupied by justice, human rights  and the rule of law  in the Malaysian scheme of things that the Cabinet, Parliament and Suhakam had failed to address the grave issue of substantive injustice of continuing to detain the reformasi six under the ISA after the unanimous verdict of the Federal Court pronouncing the police detention as “mala fide”, although the Federal Court avoided the issue of the legality of the Ministerial detention order suggesting a new habeas corpus application.

Now that the families of the  reformasi activists have lodged a police report against Norian Mai for “false and fabricated information” resulting in the Ministerial order of detention, which is a logical consequence of the Federal Court decision, how can the police expect the public to have confidence that it would be able to act  independently, impartially and professionally to  investigate the report against the IGP?

It is for this reason that the Cabinet tomorrow should set up a commission of inquiry to investigate into the police report against Norian Mai as it is simply ridiculous for the police to investigate the police chief – as proven by the failure of the police to independently, impartially and professionally investigate into the “black eye” and near-death assault of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in the police headquarters lock-up by the then IGP, Tan Sri Rahim Noor in September 1998.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman