Why three inquiries were called off

NST: 15 May 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Three public inquiries which Suhakam had planned to hold last year were called off due to various reasons. It was stated in its 2007 annual report that the inquiries were into alleged violation of human rights.
The first inquiry was to have been held following allegations of excessive use of force by prison warders.
“However, this was called off when the Prisons Department admitted that several warders had indeed used excessive force and that appropriate action had been taken against them,” it said.
The second inquiry was set to look into an accident involving the burning of houses and properties in Kampung Koiboton 1, Sabah.
“This was also called off when the complainant took the case to court,” said Suhakam.
The third case involved allegations that police had used live ammunition to disperse a crowd that gathered on Sept 8 at Batu Buruk for an event organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).
Two individuals sustained gunshot wounds in the incident and were later charged with voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter police from pursuing their duties while being members of an unlawful assembly.
“The latter two inquiries had to be cancelled because of provisions under Section 12(2)(a) and Section 12(3) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999,” said Suhakam.
The provisions required the panel to immediately cease its inquiry when the issue was a subject matter of a court proceeding.
However, the three-man panel – commissioner Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Tan Sri Asiah Abu Samah and Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim – expressed dissatisfaction over the way the police handled the Batu Buruk incident.
“The fact that the persons who were shot have been charged in court and that the police officer who allegedly shot them was not charged remains disturbing, more so when legal action was instituted four days before Suhakam was to begin its inquiry.
“The panel expressed hope that such action was not an attempt by any party to frustrate the inquiry.”
Suhakam said the panel decided that its team would hold a watching brief during the court case.