The Royal Police Commission Report Should Not Remain A Register Of The Crimes, Follies And Buried Hopes Of The Malaysian Police But A Platform Of Action And Reform Of The Police Into An Effective And Law-Abiding Police Service Accountable To The People

Opening Speech At The DAP Roundtable
Lim Guan Eng

(Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Friday): We are gathered here tonight because we feel that all of us should steep ourselves in the  Royal Commission Report to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police’s most instructive lesson. That this report should not gather dust and remain at best a register of the crimes, follies and buried hopes within the police but a platform of action to reform the police force into an effective and law-abiding service that not only complies with prescribed laws and human rights norms but is truly accountable to the people.

Notwithstanding the propensity of mankind to exalt the past and to depreciate the present, we can not hide the deterioration of trust amongst the public towards our police service. The catalog of abuses, corruption, inefficiency and neglect would be good script for some black comedy if it was not so painfully true. 

This report’s immediacy and importance to Malaysians results primarily from the articulation of weaknesses and abuses within the police that have never been so frankly exposed. This report has given Malaysians an opportunity to correct the wrongs, redress the grievances and right the blatant injustices committed.

Unfortunately, despite all the positive feedback from the government including the police chief remarks that the Report was fair and balanced, the government’s commitment to deliver and implement these recommendations is sorely lacking. The tragedy in the making is if the 125 recommendations to make the police right again were not allowed to bear fruit

Let me go through some of the 125 recommendations, whilst not exhaustive, which both the long-suffering public and lawyers considers as most important and instructive.

  1. Recommendation No. 1 – Adopt of new PDRM motto of the present Mesra, Cepat & Mesra Cekap & Beramanah to be implemented by August 2005.

  2. Recommendation No. 7- Shift from a “force” paradigm to a “service” paradigm to be implemented by August 2005.

  3. Recommendation No. 12 - Establish Independent Oversight Mechanism to be implemented by May 2006. This proposal for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission(ICPMC) Bill is important not only as a means of punishing police personnel who transgresses the very laws they have sworn to uphold but also ensuring compliance, good governance, accountability as well as sustaining public confidence.

  4. Recommendation No. 13 - Make Crime Reduction Priority No. 1 For PRM together with eradication of corruption and compliance with prescribed laws and human rights to be implemented by June 2005.

  5. Recommendation No. 26 -  Establish reasonable grounds before arrest to be implemented by June 2005 to avoid the travesty of justice that is “arrest first, investigate later”.

  6. Recommendation No. 27 – Draw up Code of Practice for Search and Seizure to be implemented by August 2005 to avoid abuses and high-handed manner in which searches are conducted.

  7. Recommendation No. 31 – Adopt new Code of Practice for Identification of Suspects to be implemented by August 2005 to enable the victim or witnesses’ identity to be protected.

  8. Recommendation No. 33 – Substitute section 113 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) with new provision to be implemented by May 2006. This is to avoid allegations or subject police to the temptations of abusing or beating up suspects to extract confessions.

  9. Recommendation No. 34 –Record statements or confessions before magistrates pursuant to section 115 of CPC to be implemented by August 2005 to reduce allegations of police abuse of suspects held.

  10. Recommendation No. 35- Draw up Code of Ethics of Practice for record, storage and return of exhibits to be implemented by August 2005 to avoid allegations of exhibits that are stolen or easily tampered with such as the furore over the missing Ecstasy pills.

  11. Recommendation No. 46 – adopt a pro-active anti-corruption strategy to be implemented by December 2005

  12. Recommendation No. 54 – To improve and rigorously implement the declaration of assets requirement to be implemented by May 2006

  13. Recommendation No. 57-  Launch a human rights education and information initiative in PDRM to be implemented by December 2005

  14. Recommendation No. 58 – Amend section 27 of the Police Act 1967 to be implemented by May 2006

  15. Recommendation No. 59 – Amend section 73 of the ISA 1960 to be  to be implemented by May 2006

  16. Recommendation No. 60 – Amend section 3 of the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 be  to be implemented by May 2006

  17. Recommendation No. 61 – Repeal Restricted Residence Act 1933 and the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 to be  to be implemented by May 2006

  18. Recommendation No. 63– Amend section 117 of the CPC to be  to be implemented by May 2006

  19. Recommendation No. 64 – Adopt Code of Practice relating to the arrest and detentions of persons to be implemented by May 2006

  20. Recommendation No. 69 – Increase establishment of PDRM unit handling investigation of crime related to women and children to be implemented by December 2005

The 125 recommendations justifiably focuses on three core areas most deserving of attention, namely to reduce crime; eradicate police corruption and ensuring compliance with prescribed laws and regulations that conforms to human rights standards. Despite some shortcomings, especially its failure to call for the repeal of the ISA, the report has generally garnered much public support as a step forward to people-centric and accountable police that fulfils its principal duty of protecting the public in a lawful manner.

The fear for all Malaysians is that the government will back-track on its commitment to implement the 125 recommendations. Our challenge then is to continuously keep this Report alive in the public eye and ensure that the time-table for implementation is kept. If the simplest recommendation of changing the motto of the police service by August this year can not be kept, then this Report becomes not an indictment of the police but an indictment of the state of democracy and justice in Malaysia.

I trust that this roundtable discussion with distinguished panelists will bring the best of Malaysian good sense and wisdom. May I therefore close with the wish for this meeting by quoting from St. Francis of Assisi:

"Where there is discord may we bring harmony, where there is error may we bring truth, where there is doubt may we bring faith, and where there is despair may we bring hope.”


*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General