DAP calls for reconstitution of the Independent Board of Visitors for the immigration detention centres to restore public confidence in its independence, impartiality and integrity


By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, October 10, 1995:

DAP calls for reconstitution of the Independent Board of Visitors for the immigration detention centres to restore public confidence in its independence, impartiality and integrity

There cannot be a worse, start for the Independent. Board of Visitors for the immigration detention centres to protect the international reputation of Malaysia than to Jose public credibility and confidence because of government failure to honour its promise to appoint representives from the Opposition and independent. NGOs onto the Board.

The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megar Ayob had publicly and privately promised that representatives from the Opposition and independent NGOs would be appointed to the Board.

In his letter to me dated August 30, replying to my request to visit the Langkap immigration detention centre,Megat said: “ Saya berjanji untuk menentukan bahawa Jawatankuasa Pelawat Bebas ini benar-benar dianggotai oleh semua pihak termasuklah ahli-ahli pembangkang dan juga pemimpin NGO.”

Why had Megat Junid failed to honour this solemn undertaking, which had immediately undermined public confidence in the Independent Board of Visitors?

If the Independent Board of Visitors cannot command public confidence and respect inside the country, how could it expect to command confidence and respect in the international arena?

The DAP therefore calls for the reconstitution of the Independent Board of ‘visitor for the immigration detent ion centres to restore public confidence in its independence impartiality and integrity.

The appointment of former Anti-corruption agency director-general, Tan Sri ZulKifli Mahmood as chairman of the Independent Board of Visitors is acceptable as his personal integrity is well-known although he was unable to overcome the system and accomplish what he had wanted to do when he headed the ACA.

There should be a full reconsideration of the rest of the composition of the Independent Board of Visitors, as the appointment of “establishment” figures to echo the views of the “establishment” is the best formula to undermine public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Board.

The Home Ministry should’ consult with the Opposition and independent NGOs on the composition of the Independent. Board of visitors to ensure that, the Board enjoys public confidence amd support.

Furthermore, the Independent Board of Visitors must not only be “independent in composition, but also “independent” in its terms of reference.

The Independent Board of Visitors should not only monitor, study and submit proposals to the Home Ministry to overcome shortcomings in the management of the immigration detention centres, it should conduct an independent inquiry into the deaths of 46 migrant workers in the immigration detention centres.