The objections raised by the police in the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is unfounded and ought not take precedence over the bigger interest and priority of setting up the said body, namely to bolster transparency and accountability of the force.
With over 1,800 death in custody cases from 2010 to 2017 and the recent findings of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were victims of enhanced disappearance, it is high time that a body with sufficient and effective investigative powers be established to monitor disciplinary issues when it comes to the police which will, undoubtedly, improve the efficiency of the force and serve as an avenue for the public to air their grievances and complaints pertaining to police misconduct.
Having independent bodies to oversee complaints pertaining to the police is nothing new.
In England for example, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was introduced to replace the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPCC) to allow the public to register complaints directly to it instead of first receiving a referral from a police constabulary. The Director General of the IOPC, Michael Lockwood was absolutely right in saying,
“Public confidence in policing is best served by robust and independent oversight. People need to know that when things go wrong or serious allegations are made about police officers, they will be thoroughly investigated by a truly independent body”.
The fear that the establishment of the IPCMC would take away certain rights of the police under Article 140 of the Federal Constitution also misses the point that the said Article recognizes that the force itself must be subject to public scrutiny and disciplinary control by providing as follows,
“Provided that Parliament may by law provide for the exercise of such disciplinary control over all or any of the members of the police force in such manner and by the Prime Minister, and may once refer the recommendation back to the Commission in order that it may reconsidered.”
Such a proviso clearly recognizes that the Police Force Commission itself may require guidance and recommendations from an independent body when carrying out disciplinary control over members of the force.
Ultimately, the establishment of the IPCMC must surely be a step in the right direction in any democracy as the same encourages transparency and accountability of the force which should be the main priority. It is one of the ways to create a world class police force which is not prone to abuse as it will be aware that it is being watched and can be investigated by an independent body.
It is hoped the government carries out its promise to set up the IPCMC without any further delay which I am certain will go down as one of its greatest achievements.