Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is gravely concerned with the report of the untimely demise of Soh Kai Chiok at Bera District Police Headquarters on 18 January 2017.
Reflecting on the decision on P Chandran delivered earlier this year, it is noted that the police have responsibility for the health and welfare of detainees. In this instance, the police need to make clear the condition of the detainee prior to his death and reveal whether the detainee was in good health upon his arrest and whether he was given the necessary medical attention if he was in poor condition during arrest or detention.
Suaram highlights the impact death in custody has upon the integrity of the Royal Malaysian Police and the importance of having a transparent and accountable investigation to safeguard public trust in the police force. Any element of foul play or negligence must be identified and if any member of the police was found to have contributed or was responsible for causing the death of Soh Kai Chiok, swift action must be taken against the person responsible to preserve the integrity of the police force.
To this end, police officers including the investigating officer responsible for the detainee and the officer in charge of the station must be suspended pending the investigation against them. Necessary disciplinary action and criminal charges must be taken against those responsible. One death in custody is too much and threatens to undo the perceived improvement shown by the police in 2016.
Suaram also welcomes the initiative shown by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission and strongly recommends that the police give full cooperation to the commission.
Sevan Doraisamy is the executive director of Suaram.