How many more must die? – Insider editorial

Bukit Aman - home of the protection racket

How many more custodial deaths to reform procedures?

JUNE 02, 2013

P. Karuna Nithi died yesterday in a police lock-up, just under two weeks after N. Dharmendran died in another police lock-up.

How many more Malaysians or anyone else for that matter have to die before the authorities take notice and ensure that those who enter a police lock-up don’t come out in a body bag? How many more times do Malaysians have to raise this matter before the government takes action and throws the book at errant policemen? How many more times before Malaysians think that custodial deaths appear to be a policy condoned by those in power?

According to rights group Suaram, there were 218 cases of alleged deaths in custody in Malaysia from 2000 to this month, with its records showing that nine of those cases occurred in 2012, while five cases took place this year. A United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 2010 visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres reported in 2011 that between 2003 and 2007, “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities.”

All this shows custodial deaths are not new. Previous cases have thrown up proposals for CCTVs, independent oversight and better procedures but still, people die in lock-ups.

The duly elected government must take action now. Any delay will further deepen the trust deficit that already persists in the country. After all, if we can’t trust the police with our lives, who can we trust? Any other answer than the police will lead to social breakdown, absolute distrust and lawlessness. All because the authorities have ignored what is clear to all of us — a police force that thinks it is a law unto itself.
Malaysian Insider


Police force condemned for bad faith at Bersih

…in fact their actions show that there were deliberate efforts to stop media personnel from doing their jobs
Suhakam report, 17 April 2013
Radzi Razak of The Sun was taken to hospital after being beaten up by several policemen at Jalan Raja Laut

Radzi Razak of The Sun was taken to hospital after being beaten up by several policemen at Jalan Raja Laut. He was one of 14 journalists who reported being assaulted or harrassed by police and prvented from taking photos at the rally.

Suhakam condemns police cover-up of its actions

The human rights commission, Suhakam, has severely criticised Malaysian police for acting in bad faith at the Bersih rally on April 28 last year, including deliberately targeting journalists to prevent them from recording events at the rally.

It also condemned what appeared to be a police cover-up of its actions, by failing to investigate reports lodged against them for brutality, and not taking any action after almost a year.

Suhakam released its report yesterday on its inquiry into the events at the Bersih rally, but its severe condemnation of police actions came through despite the moderate tone and cautious language that the commissioners adopted.

The report is the final action by the commissioners before their term expires in two weeks.

Human rights commissioner Khaw Lake Tee, who led the inquiry into the Bersih rally, releasing the Suhakam report on Wednesday. [Malaysiakini photo]

The commission said:

  • The police force acted in bad faith in handling the rally, violating the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act
  • The police took unreasonable and unjustified measures in trying to control the crowd, which included preventing media personnel from carrying out its duties.
  • The police had not assisted or facilitated in the dispersal of participants, who were not given sufficient and reasonable time to disperse in an orderly and safe manner.
  • The police failed to immediately arrest the individuals responsible in breaking the barricade around Merdeka Square, especially because the incident took place within a visible distance for some officers.
  • “Instead, for reasons only best known to them, the police made the decision to disperse the crowd using water cannons and tear gas.”
  • Despite a host of reports lodged against police personnel, the police had not completed investigation nor taken action into any one of these reports after almost a year.
  • Police failed to cooperate with the Suhakam inquiry, failing to send a full list of officers on duty that day and not sending any officer able to respond to allegations of police brutality
  • This was not the first time Suhakam had made recommendations regarding police conduct in handling public assemblies
  • Many of Suhakam’s recommendations had not been implemented by the police.

The commission also made further recommendations for the police, among them:

• make public all the Standard Operating Procedures of the police in handling public assemblies
• review and amend standing procedures and standing orders to better handle public assemblies.
• make a clear distinction between a riot and a peaceful rally
• allow reasonabletime for rally participants to disperse in an orderly fashion
• police at all times to wear permanent name tags or identification body numbers.
• plain-clothed officers not be involved in dispersal or arrests.
• police and media have a briefing before public assemblies.
• complete investigations on reports lodged against acts committed by police personnel.

from Malaysiakini’s report –

Police targeted media at Bersih – Suhakam

Human rights commission condemns bad faith by police, deliberate actions against media, failure to face inquiry

Wong Kin Onn was one of 14 journalists assaulted by police at Bersih. [Guang Ming photo]

Wong Kin Onn was one of 14 journalists assaulted by police at Bersih. Guang Ming photo

Extracts from Malaysiakini’s report on the Suhakam conclusions

Wong Onn Kin of Guang Ming Daily with a copy of petition to the Malaysian government demanding action for police brutality at Bersih

• The police force had acted in “bad faith” in its handling of the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28 last year and took unreasonable and unjustifiable measures to control the crowd.

• Their actions show that there were deliberate efforts to stop media personnel from doing their jobs.

• Despite a host of police reports lodged against police personnel, the police had not completed investigation nor taken action into any one of these reports after almost a year.

• Police did not assist or facilitate the dispersal of Bersih participants, did not give them sufficient and reasonable time to disperse in an orderly and safe manner. Instead the police made the decision to disperse the crowd using water cannon and tear gas without conducting early arrests

• Police failed to send Suhakam a full list of officers on duty that day

• Police did not send any officer [to the Suhakam inquiry] who was able to respond to allegations of police brutality during the rally.

» Police ticked off for poor handling of Bersih 3.0 rally (Malaysiakini)

Bully boys – MCMC and Khalid vs the citizen

MCMC reaches for the guillotine without asking for a correction

MCMC reaches for the guillotine without asking for a correction

The Multimedia Commission’s investigation into the Malaysian Insider amounts to nothing less than bullying tactics by the government — no different from the bullying by deputy IGP Khalid Abu Bakar threatening police action against Facebook users.

If the Malaysian Insider was wrong and had bungled its report, the MCMC had a simple first resort: complain to the editor, point out the errors, and demand remedial action

Instead, it went immediately into bully boy mode and started a criminal investigation. For what?

False reporting by the Insider? Bollocks. The MCMC is talking through its stupid arse, just like the deputy IGP is talking through his fat arse threatening Facebook users just to save face.

The press makes mistakes all the time, sometimes from carelessness, sometimes from a lapse of judgement, sometimes from sheer incompetence and bungling, most often from rushing to get the story out. Almost no one goes out deliberately to mislead — except when politicians and policemen use their “authority” or “friendship” or blackmail to get journalists to lie to the public.

Most Malaysian Insider staff are experienced journalists who have gone through the mill. They know their reputations rest on the credibility of the stories they run. They would be extremely stupid to risk that just to make the Malaysian government look stupid.

There is no need for journalists to try to make the government look stupid. You do very well on your own every day.

Just days before MCMC stupidity, Khalid Abu Bakar behaved like a bully, yet again. Is that standard operating procedure in Bukit Aman? Saving face comes before saving the citizen or serving justice?

aminulrasyid-smKhalid is the policeman who said schoolboy Aminulrasyid Amza was a gangster and had a parang in his car, after 14-year-old Aminul was shot dead by police when he took his sister’s car for a joy ride late at night in Shah Alam.

Police fired a total of 21 shots. Aminulrasyid is dead. No “parang” was ever produced. (Almost every time policemen kill someone, news reports have related that police said “a parang” was found in the car.) There was no evidence that schoolboy Aminul was a gangster. One policeman was charged in court. He was acquitted.

No one in the police force has taken responsibility for a child’s death by a police bullet.

Khalid Abu Bakar, who tried to cover up for his policeman, was promoted to deputy IGP. And from his higher position he is again threatening ordinary citizens to make the police force look good.

Stupidity is not a crime. But police stupidity and police bullying should be made a crime.

Citizens who get angry and say stupid things on Facebook are no different from citizens who borak at coffee shops and say stupid things about stupid bloody policemen and stupid bloody politicians.

Insider reports on NYT's reportThe MCMC is behaving like a bully, like Khalid, by reaching for the guillotine. If the Insider bungled and made a hash of it by rehashing the New York Times, tell the Insider they were wrong, give the facts and ask the Insider to correct their report.

Then, if the Insider refuses to do anything, few would fault the MCMC for carrying out an investigation.

But the open question is: does Malaysia spy on its citizens?

The MCMC, if it wishes to serve the citizen, should ALSO give the Insider the full facts about whether the Malaysian government (including the police, the military, and the Barisan Nasional) does indeed spy on citizens through the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if most people said Yes they do.

From personal experience, I would definitely say Malaysia spies on its own citizens repeatedly, all the time, and with impunity.

If the MCMC wants to be believed, they and the police and the military can start by not being stupid, and by asking government politicians to stop being stupid.

Stupid talk by citizens is not a crime.

Stupidity by politicians, police, military and government agencies is criminal.


Sun reporter Radzi tells Suhakam of police attack

Radzi Razak of the Sun has been interviewed by the human rights commission Suhakam about his assault by uniformed policemen while covering the Bersih rally on April 28.

About a dozen reporters and photographers have filed reports concerning assaults on several of them, and harassment and intimidation of others, damage to equipment and confiscation of data storage cards or erasure of images on them.

More than 4,000 people have supported a petition to the government protesting against the violence and demanding an apology, compensation, return of equipment and a full independent inquiry. Continue reading

Bar ding-dong, part 2: ‘Fallacious and mendacious’

  • Loyar Burok lawyers: Roger’s arguments fallacious
  • Roger: You lot are fallacious and mendacious

Sunday Star columnist lawyer Roger Tan has labelled as mendacious an article at Loyar Burok yesterday by eight lawyers who had picked out fallacies in his arguments against a recent Bar Council resolution on the Bersih rally. His concluding retort was to say “their arguments against me are … both fallacious and mendacious”.

The Bar had adopted a resolution condemning the police brutality at the Bersih rally on April 28. Roger, who did not vote for the resolution, explained in his column why he could not support the resolution. Yesterday the Loyar Burok 8 fired off a joint response in which they said police brutality, as an action of the state, was a manifest injustice and that the Bar must always stand for the common man against unjust actions of the state.

In his reply, Roger made these arguments: Continue reading

RSF mocks govt’s claim of better media freedom

Reporters Sans Frontières has mocked the prime minister for making exaggerated claims for his personal role in supposedly loosening the chains around Malaysia’s media. The RSF questioned his claim in an open letter to the PM last Tuesday. (Also that day the journalistic community submitted their petition Don’t Beat Up Journalists to the PM’s Office in protest against violent police attacks on reporters and photographers on April 28).

The media watchdog told the prime minister:

When you took office, you urged to the media to criticize you and you promised more freedom … However, the hopes raised by these promising moves were short-lived. Malaysia’s ranking in the [RSF] press freedom index fell in 2009 and 2010, and its improvement in 2011, which you made a point of mentioning on 19 March, was in fact due more to the sharp decline in the situation in a number of other countries rather than any improvement in yours. » Read the letter


If you missed it, that’s exactly what was said at this blog on March 20, after the prime minister’s speech the previous night at the Foreign Correspondents Club:

Perhaps the prime minister or his advisers took a dim view of being called to account. A week or so later, he repeated his outlandish claim, insisting on pointing to the change in numerical order and ignoring the lives lost and injuries suffered by journalists elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

Their schoolboy line of thinking goes like this: Last time we were 141. Now we are 122. So we have improved. Hooray!

Bollocks. Two deaths in Indonesia, five kidnapped and 18 assaulted — yet the highest public official in this country and his hangers-on make light of it by trying to earn plaudits because other people’s deaths put Malaysia higher up the list.

So, it seems life comes cheaply to the cheap ghouls of Putrajaya and Bukit Aman — that is to say, your lives and limbs come cheaply to them.

All it takes is one photo-call, one handshake, smiles all around, editors happy because they sucked up to power, and the man at the top getting to show he’s a good guy. Dah selesai kan?

Bollocks. Has any officer who gave orders to attack ever been brought to trial? One photo, one handshake, smiles all around, happy cops, happy editors, and everything’s settled? Bollocks.


If you can only read one article, read this…

Yes Ma’am.

Members of the Bar have responded to criticism of the Bar’s condemnation of police brutality at the recent Bersih rally The full response has been republished at better news sites, from a posting at Loyar Buruk » Fallacies Spun by Critics of the Bar It is summarised below.

The response is in answer to lawyer Roger Tan’s piece last week » Unswayed by fear or favour in the Sunday Star, under the standfirst “As much as we do not like the judiciary to be perceived as pro-government, we also do not want the Bar to be perceived as pro-opposition.” (Roger did not support the resolution.)

SUMMARY of the response endorsed by Edmund Bon, Fahri Azzat, Janet Chai, K Shanmuga, Mahaletchumy Balakrishnan, Marcus van Geyzel, Seira Sacha Abu Bakar, and Sharmila Sekaran:

Continue reading

Shoppers cheer protest against police violence

Shoppers in Penang clapped and cheered at a protest against police violence on journalists in Kuala Lumpur last month, as some 60 Citizen Journalists put on a quick “flash mob” at the luxury Gurney Plaza shopping centre on Sunday.

The group, in red T-shirts, held up placards that said “Let the Press Do Their Job” and “Protect Press Freedom”. Star photo, above

Citizen Journalists had been holding their three-day annual conference of the CJ.MY programme managed by Malaysiakini. Now in its fourth year, the programme trains ordinary people with journalistic skills in writing and video storytelling. The programme has support from the US-based International Centre for Journalists. — from the Star report » Flash mob raises awareness about violence against journalists

Citizen Journalists at their annual CJ.MY conference. Photo: Shufiyan Shukor


Two policemen charged with criminal violence on Guang Ming journo

L/Cpl Mohd Khairul Asri Mohd Sobri of Tanjung Malim police and PC Shahrul Niza Abd Jalil of Dang Wangi police, KL, at the magistrate’s court on Friday. [NST photo]

Two policemen have been charged with using criminal violence in assaulting Guang Ming Daily photojournalist Wong Kin Onn at the Bersih mass public rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.

Lance Corporal Mohd Khairul Asri Mohd Sobri, 30, of Tanjung Malim police and Constable Shahrul Niza Abd Jalil, 24, of Dang Wani, Kuala Lumpur, claimed trial and were allowed bail at RM3,000 each.

They were charged with using criminal violence under Section 350 of the Penal Code. The maximum penalty is three months’ jail and/or a RM1,000 fine.

The KL magistrate’s court was told that the decision to prosecute them was made only that morning.

Khairul and Shahrul Niza and two others still at large were accused of attacking Wong at the junction of Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja between 5.20pm and 5.30pm on April 28.

» Journalist send protest memo to PM’s office

» Journos call for Suhakam inquiry into police violence

» Journos demand apology, compensation, fair inquiry

» Journalists’ union rejects Hanif for police brutality panel