IPCMC: Deputy Home Minister incorrect in his observations

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has dismissed revived calls for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

He said its drafters "breached every principle of justice in any law". He went on to criticize the IPCMC, saying it excludes the power of the court and becomes the final adjudicator, that someone facing disciplinary action does not have the right of appeal in court. He also expressed concern over the fact that the IPCMC, according to him, took away the Attorney-Generals powers of prosecution.

Based on the above, he said the IPCMC is highly arbitrary and "treats policemen worse than criminals".

With respect, I disagree with the Deputy Minister.

Whilst there are no express provisions in the proposed law for a direct appeal to any court, it is trite that a decision of the commission would be subject to judicial review.

This is not something unusual or new. The current laws which deal with police discipline also do not have express provisions for appeal to any court. The current practice is for police officers who are unhappy with disciplinary decisions against them to challenge those decisions by way of judicial review.

In any event, even if such is the real concern of the Home Ministry, that doesn't justify throwing away the whole bill. The solution is simple and that is to add in a clause which expressly provides for appeal to the High Court. The Deputy Minister need not worry as I am sure such an amendment will find full support in Parliament.

The Deputy Minister says the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is more consistent with natural justice. Perhaps he should note that the EAIC does not provide for direct appeal to a court of law either.

The Deputy Minister is also upset that the IPCMC takes away the Attorney General's sole power to prosecute. This is not correct. The IPCMC puts the Attorney General to greater account for decisions he makes in prosecution. The IPCMC does not have the power to prosecute persons for criminal offences. The powers of the Attorney General to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for criminal offences, guaranteed by Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, remains.

Again, if such was a major concern for the Home Ministry, suggestions should be made as to how it is such could be made clearer in the bill. It shouldn't be reason for the dismissal of the bill outright.

Datuk Wan Junaidi should not be so quick to dismiss calls for the implementation of the IPCMC. He should not shoot from the hip. It would be to his advantage to engage with us, the NGO's concerned and even the Bar Council over his concerns before he moves to publicly declare his objections to the IPCMC.

I welcome Datuk Wan Junaidi to a debate or discussion over his allegation that the IPCMC breaches "every principle of justice in any law". He has made a very serious allegation. He should now be prepared to substantiate it.

Insofar as I am concerned, we in Pakatan are prepared to sit together with the Home Ministry and the Attorney Generals Chambers to find ways by which we can implement the IPCMC. If there are parts of it which have to be clarified and improved, we are open to such ideas.

The Home Ministry should not dismiss the IPCMC outright. What is important is to recognize the need for the formulation of an effective IPCMC which is truly independent so that we can improve our police force. That, I think all of us can agree upon.

Gobind Singh Deo MP for Puchong