DAP deplores IGP’s Kota Bharu statement and calls on him to take immediate action to ensure that public do not feel they are entering ”a lion’s den” when going to police stations to lodge reports against the police

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, issued on Friday, 27th November l98l

DAP deplores IGP’s Kota Bharu statement and calls on him to take immediate action to ensure that public do not feel they are entering ”a lion’s den” when going to police stations to lodge reports against the police

The Kota Bharu statement by the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, that certain groups were magnifying the issue of police brutality for their own political and self-interest is most regrettable and deplorable.

This is a most unworthy statement coming from the Inspector General of Police and can do nothing to increase public confidence in the ability of the police to impose discipline on police personnel so that they become guardians of law rather than law-breakers themselves.

Last week in Bukit Aman Police Headquarters, when I met the IGP and CID Director, Datuk Abdul Rahman Ismail, we discussed the problem of lack of public confidence in the police particularly where the public have complaints against the police like police brutality etc.

Tan Sri Haniff hoped that the public would have sufficient confidence in the police in such cases, to go directly to the police instead of going through other channels.

I agreed that such a development would be more desirable, as it marked full public confidence in the police, even in cases of complaints against the police.

Unfortunately, this is not the position today. Members of the public feel they are entering a ”lion’s den”, where they could be mauled up anytime, when they go to police stations to lodge reports against the police. This is because they have experienced that they were treated with great hostility whenever they tried to lodge a report against the police in any police station. Either the police on duty refuse to accept their report, or are told to write their own police report, or attempts are made to frighten them off. Recently, in the Tampin case, the complainant who lodged a police report of police brutalities was taken in a second time to be assaulted.

A few days ago, the father of a l9-year-old youth who was shot by the police in Muar was treated very rudely when he tried to lodge a police report in the Muar police station.

I agree that it is a small number of black sheep in the police force who are giving the police a bad name. But the IGP should not make unworthy accusations as he did in Kota Bharu yesterday, trying to make the public believe that everyone in the police force is an angel.

It is public knowledge that police assaults take place in almost every police station throughout the country. But the number of cases of complaints of police assault are very few and rare. This is because those who have been assaulted knew that if they make public complaints, they would be victimised in future. As a result, the overwhelming majority of those assaulted, preferred to keep quiet. Those who publicly make complaints are likely to be those who had been unjustly and excessively brutalised where their sense of self-respect overcome their fear of victimisation in the hope that they can get justice. In these circumstance, the public authorities should give greater credence to such cases rather that doubting their motivations.

I want to make it very clear that in bringing up the various cases of police brutalities, I have no political motivation whatsoever. As I said in my letter to the Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, and in my meeting with the IGP, I find it very unpleasant to bring up such cases, but will continue to do so as it is my duty to protect the people against all forms of government excesses, including police excesses.

I would urge the IGP to have thorough reform of the police so that members of the public can go to police stations without hesitation or fear to lodge reports against the police itself, to eliminate the “lion’s den” mentality currently prevalent. In the interest of public confidence in the police, the IGP should not indulge in “cover-up”, or question the motive of complaints against police brutality, The IGP must convince the public not only in words but in deeds that the police authorities would not countenance any police personnel taking the law into his own hands.