Thursday, July 11, 2013

Barely legal: 3 ex-chief justices vs a new home minister and his deputy


JULY 11, 2013

NEWS ANALYSIS - Malaysia is watching a scene never before played out here where two former chief justices and a lawyer who later became a chief justice are lined up against the home minister and his deputy on what is lawful.
Several odd arguments have been offered by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his deputy Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on why the government does not want the kind of oversight proposed by the three former jurists, who were part of a commission that called for an independent body to monitor the police.
The oddest argument of all must be that it is against the law.
This was a point made today by former New Straits Times group editor Datuk  A. Kadir Jasin, who sat on the same 2004 Royal Commission of Inquiry that the three jurists were on. Who would know more about the law, he asked in his latest blog post.
He noted that former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar also was in the commission along with former chief justices Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin and Tun Salleh Abas. Also on the inquiry was a senior lawyer who later went on to become Chief Justice, Tun Zaki Azmi.
It was this inquiry nine years ago that recommended among other things, an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
This suggestion drew so much flak from the police that then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi quietly forgot about it. Instead a watered down version of an oversight was created – with one person alone to monitor the police.
If that was too little work, 18 other agencies were then added. The police seem to have had no problem with that.
It is a bit more of a problem for the former inquiry member Kadir.
“If the Barisan Nasional government is not interested to set up the IPCMC, please do not use the illustrious Malaysians like Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin, Tun Hanif, Tun Salleh and Tun Zaki as scapegoats and punching bags,” Kadir wrote in his blog.
In his post which contained healthy helpings of sarcasm, Kadir took aim at Zahid and Junaidi, noting that the duo believed that they knew more about the law and the Constitution than the members of the inquiry.
He said if the home minister and his deputy believed they were superior to the inquiry members, surely they could have sought the “assistance of the supposedly knowledgeable people in the Attorney-General’s Department to improve the IPCMC’s legal framework".
Another inquiry member, former Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim also scoffed at the home minister’s assertion that the IPCMC was unconstitutional.
She pointed out to Malaysiakini that external oversight bodies have been set up in the United Kingdom and Australia.
“Why can’t it be implemented here when they can do it there? We cannot have the police investigating themselves in such cases of death in lock-ups, abuse of power or corruption,” she said.
“The purpose of the IPCMC is to ensure that the police force is run well, as the public who are paying the taxes want to make sure that there are sincere efforts in fighting crime, there is no corruption and to ensure good governance,” said Kamilia, a lawyer.
Kadir noted the difficulty prime ministers of Malaysia have when faced with vested interests by others. He said on his blog: “After all, if Abdullah who commissioned the RCI did not form the IPCMC, why should anyone expect his successor to do so?” - July 11, 2013
~ The Malaysian Insider

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