Minister Paul Low must learn the facts about the EAIC to which he has urged the family of death in custody victim N Dharmendran to lodge a report, says Francis Loh.
Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, has urged the family of custodial death victim N Dharmendran – who died on 21 May – to lodge a report with the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) so that an independent probe can commence.
For this new Minister, there is no need for the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as there is already an exisiting mechanism, namely the EAIC.
We strongly disagree with the new Minister’s opinion.
With the Bar Council and other civil society groups, Aliran calls for the immediate establishment of an IPCMC. Respected citizens including retired judges, officials, religious leaders and members of human rights NGOs should be invited to sit on this body.
Indeed, the establishement of the IPCPM was recommended in the Report of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police, which was first released on 16 May 2005. Instead of implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the BN government decided to set up a task force to study the recommendations in the Report.
In the process, the most important recommendation of the Royal Commission, namely the setting up of the IPCMC was set aside. Greater attention was given to launching a nationwide drive against crime, modernising the Police force, improving the system of remuneration, upgrading equipment and logistics.
Instead of the IPCMC, the task force ultimately recommended the establishment of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). What is this EAIC? The new Minister needs to familiarise himself with the workings of the EAIC.
And if Paul Low does not want to listen to the Bar Council and other civil society groups, he ought to listen to what the former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad has said. Indeed, in a recent forum on the Integrity of the EAIC, some very important and relevant information pertaining to the functioning and effectiveness of the EAIC was revealed by the former Chief Justice.
Established in September 2011 under the provision of the EAIC Act 2009, a total of 19 enforcement agencies, including the Police, fall under the purview of the EAIC. With the exception of corruption cases, the EAIC is required to handle or investigate all other complaints even if it falls under the Penal Code.
The former CJ revealed that the EAIC had only six investigators appointed since September 2011 (but that there remained only a single investigator since May 16!).
Indeed, from September 2011 until the end of 2012, the EAIC had received a total of 347 complaints and after preliminary investigations, 110 were rejected, nine were referred to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), 15 were referred to appropriate disciplinary authorities, four were referred to appropriate disciplinary authorities and MACC; 60 or 17.2 percent were directed for full investigation and 149 required further preliminary investigation.
Under the Act, task forces should be established to investigate these 60 complaints referred for full investigations, Abdul Hamid revealed. Yet ”the Commission has not established any task force on these complaints’, he said.
“So far, full investigations were done on [only] three cases, and from these three, only one has been referred to the disciplinary authority of the police while the [other] two cases were closed due to double jeopardy as the complaint had been heard and punished by the appropriate enforcement agency, namely Rela and the Road Transport Department.
Yet the EAIC is supposed to handle complaints whether of a disciplinary or criminal nature involving some 160,000 (enforcement) personnel. Should the public decide not to lodge police reports but channel their complaints to the EAIC, it would be impossible for the EAIC handle all these complaints?
The Minister, we humbly submit, must learn the facts about the EAIC to which he has urged the family of death in custody victim N Dharmendran to lodge a report. We also submit that death in custody cases should not be mixed with complaints against Rela, RTD, Bomba, etc
Dr Francis Loh
8 June 2013