Call on IGP to set up a special Human Rights Police Unit to address a major police shortcoming - insensitivity, disregard and violation of human rights which is why Norian Mai has failed to fully restore public confidence in police professionalism and impartiality four years after the infamous Anwar "black-eye" scandal

Media Comment
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Wednesday): On the occasion of the 196th Police Day celebrations yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai outlined six "shortcomings" of the police officers and staff which must be "dealt with immediately" to protect the image and integrity of the Royal Malaysian Police:

  • corrupt practice;

  • abusing their power;

  • lacking in dedication to serve the public;

  • displaying poor social etiquette;

  • committing negligence in discharging their duties; and

  • being involved in criminal activities.

Norian Mai has omitted an important seventh major "shortcoming" of the Malaysian police - insensitivity, disregard and violation of human rights.

In fact, less than three weeks before the 196th Police Day celebrations, the Malaysian police was in the dock of national and international opinion for its latest blatant disregard and violation of human rights which plunged Malaysia-India bilateral relations to an all-time low, caused the Indian Government to cancel Malaysian Ministerial visits to India and the Indian pull-out from the Raja Azlan Hockey Tournament, tarnished our international image in reinforcing world perceptions of Malaysia as a "First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality" nation, undermining economic recovery efforts - the Kuala Lumpur Palm Court incident involving the police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals.

The Yang di Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, yesterday stressed the importance of the quality of "accountability among senior officers" for the police to fulfil the theme of this year's Police Day celebrations, "Friendly, Fast and Right", motivating police officers and men at all levels to adopt productive, credible and effective work culture.

In his Police Day message, Norian Mai called on police officers and staff to serve with sincerity.

Neither the Police Day theme of "Friendly, Fast and Right" nor the IGP's call to the police to "serve with sincerity" could be achieved unless the police makes a Herculean effort to address the major blot on its record and service - its continuing insensitivity, disregard and violation of human rights which is why Norian Mai has failed to fully restore public confidence in police professionalism and impartiality four years after the infamous Anwar Ibrahim "black-eye" scandal.

In November this year, when he would celebrate his 57th birthday, Norian Mai would have completed his two-year extension of his contract as IGP after his retirement, which means he has eight months left to leave behind a lasting national legacy to wipe out the infamy of the Royal Malaysian Police when his predecessor, former IGP, Tan Sir Rahim Noor, dishonoured the entire police force and nation and gave Malaysia an international "black-eye" with his near-fatal criminal assault of Anwar Ibrahim while in Bukit Aman police headquarters detention and custody and escaping later with an unbelievably light sentence!

Norian Mai should set up a special Human Rights Police Unit to address the major police shortcoming of callous insensitivity, disregard and violation of human rights tasked with the human rights education of all police ranks and the development of a human rights culture in the Royal Malaysian Police.

The lack of police sensitivity and respect for human rights is highlighted by the police handling of the national and international furore over the police mistreatment of IT professionals in the Palm Court Incident.

Although the Malaysian Government has apologized to the Indian Government for the Palm Court Incident and ended the Malaysia-India diplomatic row, averting its spread to other aspects of the bilateral relationship, the diplomatic apology to India has not been accompanied by any sign of contriteness or preparedness on the part of the Police to admit wrong and responsibility for the mistreatment of the Indian IT professionals - raising the question as to what was the apology of the Malaysian Government to the Indian Government all about?

Norian Mai reiterated yesterday that all that the police had contravened in the Palm Court incident was the failure "to adhere to operational procedures" - making no mention of mistreatment of IT professionals and which the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin had vigorously denied in Parliament even last Thursday.

Norian Mai told a press conference yesterday that "Some of the procedures were not followed during the raid and police investigations revealed that there had been negligence".

Asked whether any disciplinary action was taken against the policemen involved, Norian Mai said investigations did not focus on individuals but on what had taken place and the whole team members. He also said following the incident, police might review the procedures for future arrest. (New Straits Times)

The whole scenario is most ridiculous and irresponsible, accruing absolutely no credit either to the police or the nation. We have here on the one hand the unprecedented apology by Malaysia to India for the Palm Court Incident over the police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals while on the other hand the Police, fully backed by the Deputy Home Minister, continues publicly to deny that there had been any police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals and that the only infraction was the failure to adhere to "police procedures".

It makes nonsense of Norian Mai's declaration yesterday that "the police would not leave any stone unturned and would not hesitate to name those found to have either abused their power or involved in negative activities such as corrupt practices" when in an incident which had attracted such world-wide adverse publicity like the Palm Court episode, resulting in the national shame of having to apologise to India, the police could leave all the stones "unturned" and publicly strike the posture that there had been no police wrongdoing but some bureaucratic oversight, akin to failure to comply with ISO 9000 rules!

Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had directed Norian Mai to personally investigate into the Palm Court Incident. Is Norian Mai's response a mere diplomatic and PR one, where the government apologises to India while the police condones the police mistreatment of the Indian IT professionals?

Norian Mai should be brave enough to admit the police mistreatment of Indian IT professionals, and take the necessary follow-up disciplinary actions against those involved to ensure that there would be no recurrence. Otherwise, instead of wiping out the infamy to the police left by Rahim Noor, he would himself be leaving the police service at the end of the year adding the further infamy of the dishonest and deplorable mishandling of the Palm Court Incident.

To redeem the nation's reputation from the police mishandling of the Palm Court Incident, the IGP report to Abdullah on the incident should be tabled in Parliament without any delay.

On the idea for a police Human Rights Unit, I am sure Suhakam should have a sheaf of proposals after three years of experience on how the police could end its insensitivity, disrespect and violation of human rights and develop a human rights ethos and culture in the police force.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman