Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights to visit Kamunting Detention Centre  on June 17 – detainees and families invited  to present their complaints about detention conditions to caucus  MPs which include the three DAP women parliamentarians, Chong Eng, Teresa Kok and Fong Po Kuan

Speech at the “Teater Rakyat” -  Road Show of the “Malaysia Bebas Dari ISA” Campaign
by Lim Kit Siang

(Chin Woo Hall, Ipoh, Sunday): The Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights will make a fact-finding  visit to the Kamunting Detention Centre  on June 17 at 10 am and detainees and their families are invited  to present beforehand their complaints about the Internal Security Act (ISA) detention conditions to caucus  MPs which include the three DAP women parliamentarians, Chong Eng, Teresa Kok and Fong Po Kuan.

I had  been a “graduate” of the Kamunting Detention Centre, as  together with Lim Guan Eng  we were the two  longest-serving detainees under Operation Lalang from 1987- 1989, and what I am  interested most in the June 17 visit  will be to see the actual detention conditions of the ISA detainees rather than the official  “briefings” by the centre authorities.


Recently, the Police Royal Commission submitted its report and 125 recommendations “to transform the Royal Malaysian Police into a world-class, 21st-century organization that is efficient, clean and trustworthy, dedicated to serving the people and the nation with integrity and respect for human rights”.


It recommended that the 60-day police detention under Section 73 of the ISA be amended and shortened to 30 days, but declined to make any recommendation on Section 8 on the Minister’s powers to order the formal detention of a person under ISA for an initial period of two years but which can be extended indefinitely on the ground that this was outside its  jurisdiction and terms of reference.


This is one of the many weaknesses and shortcomings of the Police Royal Commission Report which by and large is a very commendable effort to reform the police although it could have been more thorough, comprehensive and far-reaching in its recommendations.


The Police Royal Commission was wrong and misguided in declining to make recommendations on  Section 8  pertaining to  the Ministerial powers  to order the formal detention of a person under the ISA, as  the Minister’s detention powers are exercisable in consequence of the police detention powers under Section 73.


It is an open secret, which had been documented by senior Cabinet Minister  Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, who was once the Deputy Home Minister, in his book “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia", that it is the common practice for Home Ministers and Deputy Ministers  to  automatically sign ISA detention orders based purely on police recommendations without exercising their Ministerial responsibility to satisfy themselves on the adequacy of the evidence or the necessity of the detention. 

The most important of the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission is the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)  to have for the first time in the nation’s history an independent  civilian oversight mechanism to hold the police to account for its actions, policies and organization and to investigate   public complaints against police misconduct  in a fair and transparent manner – including police abuses and misconduct under the ISA.

The Commission is right in stressing the indispensable need to set up an external oversight body as  internal police mechanisms alone are inadequate, unreliable and frequently ineffective. In its Report, the Commission annexed a draft IPCMC Bill for adoption by Parliament.

I have given notice to Parliament to adopt and  present the Commission’s  IPCMC  Bill as a private member’s bill for the parliamentary meeting reconvening on June 20, but I am prepared to withdraw  it to give way to any official IPCMC Bill by the Government.  All MPs, regardless of whether from the ruling coalition or the opposition, should take a common stand when Parliament reconvenes in a fortnight’s time to adopt and implement the most important of the Commission’s recommendations – the establishment of an IPCMC.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman