The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) would like to congratulate the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) on its bold move and determination to unveil the truth surrounding the disappearance of Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh through a public inquiry set up last year.
Suhakam ruled that both men were subjected to enforced disappearance with the involvement of the Special Branch of the police. Suhakam’s damning ruling demonstrates the deeply ingrained culture of impunity which is reinforced by decades of corruption and abuse of power – a culture that continues to plague our police force.
To end this culture, an independent oversight mechanism to ensure police accountability must be immediately put in place.
It is worth reiterating that the government (in its promise number 20 of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto) has committed itself to ensuring police accountability, among others, by establishing an oversight body known as the independent police complaints and misconduct commission. The commission would look into complaints related to the misconduct against the police force.
On 22 September 2018, the prime minister announced that the complaints commission would be established soon. While the move is a step in the right direction, the government ought to take all necessary steps to ensure that the commission functions with the highest degree of independence. Putting in place an independent oversight body is key to ensuring that the body operates effectively.
Among the steps that can be taken to ensure the independence of the proposed commission is by empowering it to initiate investigations on its own and order any action it deems fit, including discharge, suspension of allowances and increments, and demotion if a member of the police force is found guilty of wrongdoing.
As for the appointments of the commissioners, the recommendation put forth by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police in 2005 should be adopted: seven commissioners to be appointed by the king for a three-year term and the appointments should consist of people from a legal background, not from the police force. They should not include any former police officer.
We would like to emphasise that only with the establishment of the commission can the culture of impunity deeply ingrained in the police force be effectively addressed and eventually brought to an end.
Given the seriousness of the matter, C4 Center calls on the police force to immediately apprehend and charge the former inspector general of police and home affairs minister for their alleged complicity in the heinous crime of abduction.
Cynthia Gabriel is executive director of C4 Center.