The Malaysian Bar commends and supports the new Inspector General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador’s recent statement, as reported in the media, that he “[takes] responsibility in ensuring the police will get the best outcomes from all aspects while the public will feel protected and will get the best service from the setting up of the IPCMC [Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission]”.
Abdul Hamid’s expression of support for the establishment of the IPCMC, which is intended to function as an independent and external oversight body to investigate complaints involving police personnel, is significant, positive and encouraging.
It is our fervent hope that the IGP’s leadership in this respect will herald a new dawn of police accountability and of public confidence in the police.
The establishment of the IPCMC is indisputably constitutional and does not violate Section 4 of the Police Act 1967.
Article 140(1) of the Federal Constitution — which is the supreme law of the land — clearly provides for the establishment of a Police Force Commission that may “exercise disciplinary control over members of the police force”.
We wish to categorically state that, in meting out disciplinary action, the IPCMC would not undermine the powers of the IGP.
It is only the investigative and disciplinary functions currently under the Police Force Commission — which is an internal body — that would be taken over by the IPCMC in order to have external oversight.
If the IPCMC receives a complaint about alleged misconduct, and upon investigation discovers that adequate disciplinary action has been taken by the police, the IPCMC will not take any further action.
The IPCMC would act only if the police have taken no action, or inadequate action, on the complaint.
The police can rest assured that all upright and law-abiding police personnel who have committed no offence have nothing to fear from the IPCMC.
As part of the Malaysian Bar’s submission of recommendations to the government’s Committee for Institutional Reforms, we put forward amendments to the proposed bill that the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police had drafted and submitted to the government.
Our proposed amendments were aimed at addressing various concerns, including the right to legal representation, the right to remain silent, solicitor-client privilege and the right to appeal against decisions of the IPCMC.
The Malaysian Bar urges the government to set up the IPCMC without any further delay. Its establishment will undoubtedly enhance the stature and the standing of the police.
Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is president of the Malaysian Bar.
This piece is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.