Retaliation against police critic underlines urgency of police reform

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Retaliation by the Royal Malaysian Police against Rama Ramanathan, a regular critic of the force’s unlawful and unprofessional conduct, underlines exactly the centrality and urgency of police reform in building a Malaysia that is based on the rule of law, good governance and human rights.

We, the undersigned civil society groups, call upon the parliamentary Select Committee on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to call Rama to give his testimony, both on the case he exposes and the retaliation he endures, to send a clear signal that no one in the police force enjoys impunity from public scrutiny and legitimate criticism. The IPCMC must be implemented without dilution to end such impunity.

Rama was called in for investigation for exposing [in his blog] a possibly failed attempt at enforced disappearance involving a young human rights defender from Sabah, Jufazli Shi Ahmad, followed by a raid on his apartment to confiscate his smartphone and notebook computer.

Intended to intimidate and silence Rama and fellow human rights defenders, this act of retaliation is a reminder that police reform is the biggest failure in the Pakatan Harapan’s agenda of institutional reform, with colossal implications on governance and economy.

It raises the question of whether the democratically elected government is in full control and whether it can uphold the rule of law if this hurts the vested interests of some elements in the police.

And if criminal elements in the police force can break laws, lives and families to pursue their greed or bigotry or cover up their crimes, what is left of the rule of law? How can honest citizens and businesses live fearlessly by abiding by the law?

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What moral ground and credibility does Malaysia’s government have to ask foreigners and foreign businesses to abide by its laws?

Persistent, rigorous and courageous, Rama, the spokesperson of Citizens Against Enforced Disappearance (Caged), has been monitoring misconduct and abuse of power committed by members of the police since the abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh and alleged Shite activist Amri Che Mat, for which the NGO was founded.

Rama’s blog provides perhaps the most professional, detailed and engaging write-ups on hearings and inquiries of police misconduct. He captures nuances and provides context to testimonies of victims, witnesses and officers, often heart-wrenching with ghastly accounts of torture that show how law enforcement officers break laws, lives and families as if they are guaranteed impunity.

With some of his closest relatives having served in the police force before, Rama is no hater of the force. Quite the opposite, he criticises the police to uphold justice not just for the victims of police violence and other misconduct, but also the vast majority of the members of the police – honest men and women whose good names and honour are continually tainted by the black sheep in their midst. He also wants rank-and-file policemen and policewomen to be paid fair salaries, commensurate with the risks they take and the sacrifice they make.

Through his sharp but fair criticism, Rama is the self-appointed ally of the Inspector General of Police Hamid Bador, who vowed to clean up the force. Once removed for speaking out on the 1MDB scandal, the inspector general was a victim of criminal elements in the force.

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We are utterly disappointed that the inspector general allows – whether actively or passively – the retaliation against Rama. We call upon every patriotic Malaysian to stand up, not just for Rama, but also like him for a clean, respectable and decently paid police force.

Endorsing groups:

  • Agora Society
  • Aliran
  • Awam
  • Bangsar Lutheran Church (BLC)
  • Bersih
  • Beyond Borders Malaysia
  • Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  • Childline Foundation
  • Citizens Against Enforced Disappearance (Caged)
  • Community Development Centre
  • Community Transformation Initiative Bhd
  • Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM)
  • Diversity Malaysia
  • Edict
  • Empower Malaysia
  • Engage
  • Gerak
  • Jerit
  • Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
  • Justice for Sisters
  • Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  • Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall women’s division
  • Kryss Network
  • MAru
  • Malaysian Care
  • Monsoons Malaysia
  • MyPJ
  • North South Initiative
  • OHMSI
  • Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  • Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)
  • Pusat Komas
  • Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (Sawo)
  • Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  • Suaram
  • Tamil Foundation
  • Tenaganita
  • Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  • Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami)
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Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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