Aliran Media Statement

Rahim Noor's Confession: Black Eye and Blacker Deeds

Together with the Malaysian nation, Aliran notes that public demands to know the truth behind the infamous 'black eye' that Anwar Ibrahim suffered on the night of 20 September, 1998 has now produced a self-confessed villain.

That villain is none other than the former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor who confessed yesterday to having assaulted Anwar while the latter was defenceless and held in police custody.

The Malaysian public will no doubt be relieved to hear that no low-level police personnel was offered as a scapegoat for the dastardly deed of the then most high-ranking police officer.

But Rahim's confession, which only came after sustained public pressure to have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about this unpardonable incident, must now raise pressing questions about the administration of justice in this country.

Rahim Noor's five-month late confession, made by his lawyer to the Commission of Inquiry, exposes the many lies and cover-ups that have characterised the persecution of Anwar since 2 September, 1998.

Shortly after he had already assaulted Anwar, Rahim had the temerity to lie by publicly 'assuring' the nation that Anwar was safe and sound in police custody. Even after Anwar's 'black eyed' appearance in court, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad had the audacity to suggest that Anwar's injuries were self-inflicted. Ever since then, the Attorney General has sat upon medical reports and police reports and showed no urgency in ensuring that justice be done.

Aliran considers that more than five months of such delays, lies and cover-ups tantamount to a travesty of justice especially when contrasted with the ongoing prosecution of other people.

Malaysians have been told that the prosecution is no longer interested in Anwar's alleged sexual misconduct. Anwar, as even Justice Augustine Paul has repeatedly reminded Anwar's lawyers, is only being prosecuted for allegedly interfering with police investigations.

By the same token, the Malaysian people are not interested in how mere words, supposedly uttered by a blindfolded and handcuffed Anwar, could have so severely provoked Rahim to beat up Anwar repeatedly in a police cell? What they want to know is, 'How do the lies, insinuations and delays perpetrated by then Home Affairs Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, then IGP Rahim Noor and the present Attorney-General differ from Anwar's alleged interference in police investigations and the administration of justice?'

The nation has also been treated to the deplorable spectacle of the mass trial of 126 people that arose out of the October 1998 demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur. These ordinary people, who were demonstrating peacefully in the interests of justice, have been charged with unlawful assembly.

What the nation wants to know is, 'Has the conduct of any one of those 126 accused persons been anywhere as violent, unlawful or despicable as Rahim's criminal and cowardly beating of a defenceless person held under police custody?'

Aliran welcomes the transparent manner in which the Commission of Inquiry has conducted its hearing thus far that elicited Rahim's confession. Together with the Malaysian people, Aliran demands that Rahim be arrested and charged immediately, prosecuted without delay, and, when found guilty, be subjected to the most stringent penalties provided by law. Given his confession, Rahim should also be immediately stripped of his titles, which do not befit a person who has behaved no better than a common and brutal criminal.

Let not the injustice symbolised by Anwar's black eye be allowed to cover up the blacker deeds of high-ranking people who have been only too quick to hound other people. Let not innocent and ordinary people suffer the indignities of persecution and prosecution while high-ranking people go unchallenged.

On 5 January, 1999, the Attorney-General publicly stated: 'I, as Public Prosecutor, will not hesitate to consent to the institution of prosecution against any individual proved to have committed or abetted the commission of such crime.'

Are these words to remain as unmatched in deed as the Attorney General's many previous and equally brave-sounding words? Or will the Public Prosecutor move without delay to prosecute without fear or favour?

In the name of justice for all Malaysians, Aliran urges the Commission of Inquiry to investigate all legal avenues and channels available to bring to trial all others who have, in the Attorney-General's words, 'abetted the commission' of the 'black eye' incident.

Aliran Executive Committee
1 March 1999