Will the Cabinet today decide or dilly-dally on IPCMC?

All eyes are on the Cabinet this morning – will the Cabinet decide or dilly-dally on the issue of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)?

The issue of IPCMC was first proposed by the Dzaiddin Royal Royal Police Commission eight years ago in 2005 as the most important of its 125 recommendations to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional and world-class police force, with even the Prime Minister at the time, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi publicly pledging to implement the IPCMC recommendation.

It was the then UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, who later became Home Minister, who led the opposition to the establishment of the IPCMC, teaming up with the then police leadership to force Abdullah to backtrack and finally scuttle the IPCMC proposal. Instead an ineffective Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) was substituted.

Did the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who was a Deputy Minister in the first Abdullah administration 2004-2008, support or oppose the IPCMC at the time.

The IPCMC was one effective proposal to address the high rate of deaths in police custody, with 80 cases from January 2000 to December 2004, or an annual average of 16 deaths in police custody in those five years - which was regarded as unacceptably high.

Unfortunately, the scandal of deaths in police custody have worsened after the Dzaiddin Report. The rate of deaths in police custody has increased albeit slightly in the eight and a half years since the IPCMC Report – with 141 deaths from January 2005 to May 2013 (with three deaths in just 11 days in the first month after the 13th general elections on May 5) or a higher annual average of 16.6 deaths since the Dzaiddin RCI report.

Zahid is now playing “Tai Chi” by stating that his ministry is “open” to the setting up of IPCMC but asks for time to study public feedback to such a proposal.

There is no need for any more study as I do not believe there is any subject which had been more studied, whether by the Cabinet or the police force in the past eight years than the IPCMC proposal. Or is the intention to study the IPCMC proposal “to death”?

Let the Cabinet set up a Cabinet committee which is given two weeks to submit final recommendations to the Cabinet on June 19 for the acceptance and implementation of the IPCMC proposal – so that the Cabinet policy decision could be announced as part of the spate of new government policies and proposals in the Royal Address in Parliament on June 25.

Alternatively, the Cabinet should agree today to allow MPs to have a free vote on the IPCMC proposal in the first meeting of the 13th Parliament which is to meet for 16 days from June 24 to July 18.

This is why the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council at its meeting on Monday has set up a six-member IPCMC Parliamentary Task Force to spearhead the establishment of the IPCMC in the 13th Parliament.

The establishment of the IPCMC can become a reality if there are 23 Barisan Nasional MPs who are prepared to join the 89 Pakatan Rakyat MPs to support the establishment of the IPCMC when the 13th Parliament starts its meeting on June 24.

MIC, which has four MPs, has declared its support for IPCMC. MCA Vice President, Gan Peng Sieu has said that MCA supports IPCMC. Can we expect the seven MCA MPs to support the IPCMC proposal in Parliament?

With the support of 4 MIC MPs and 7 MCA MPs, all that is needed for IPCMC to become law and for an end to the scandalous deaths in police custody in Malaysia is another 12 votes from the other Barisan Nasional MPs. Is this an impossible dream?

The six MPs in the Pakatan Rakyat IPCMC Parliamentary Task Force are:

M. Kulasegaran (DAP – Ipoh Barat)
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP – Puchong)
N. Surendran - (PKR – Padang Serai)
Shamsul Iskandar – (PKR – Bukit Katil)
Mohamed Hanifa Maidin - (PAS – Sepang)
Siti Mariah Mahmud - (PAS – Kota Raja)

We welcome the 133 Barisan Nasional MPs forming a similar IPCMC Parliamentary Task Force to work in tandem with the PR IPCMC Parliamentary Task Force to see the establishment of IPCMC.

I have asked Kulasegaran as the most senior MP to convene the first meeting of the PR IPCMC Task Force as immediately as possible.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah