Police reform most urgent in Najib's reform plan

We the undersigned civil society groups urge Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to make police reform one of the two most urgent tasks in his reform plan, alongside with a solution to the Perak Constitutional Crisis. Whether he likes it or not, the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is now one of his most important Key Performance Indices (KPIs).

Recent events showing that the Royal Malaysian Police has evolved into an anti-Constitution, anti-human rights and completely partisan force is alarming. Malaysians deserve a civilized, professional and efficient police force. This the Prime Minister must deliver.
We are saddened and angered by the police force’s continued misconduct in abusing power, violating human rights and destroying rule of law in this country:
1. The arbitrary arrest of 126 people nationwide for wearing black and celebrating the birthday of murdered Mongolian women Altantuya Shariibuu since May 5.
Three of them have been arrested twice. In the latest incident on May 19, 11 persons including two elected representatives were detained overnight for lighting candles and collecting signatures to demand for the dissolution of the Perak Legislative Assembly. It is ridiculous that Malaysians now seem to have lost their right to choose what colour they can wear and light candles.
2. The police’s unlawful invasion of the Perak Legislative Assembly and the manhandling of the Speaker and other lawmakers on May 7.
By defying the order of the legitimate Speaker, the police officers who entered the legislative house and attacked lawmakers have in fact committed mutiny against the elected legislature. This is perhaps the most infamous incident in Commonwealth parliamentary history after Charles The First’s invasion of the English Parliament in 1642.
3. The arrest of five lawyers when exercising their duty to represent 14 detainees at Brickfields Police Station on May 7.
Most outrageously, in response to the Bar’s criticism, the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and later the Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan asked if lawyers were above the law. This question implied that lawyers representing detainees are acting in a ‘criminal’ manner. This is  a fundamental challenge to the rule of law and the right to legal representation in particular. If the Minister and the IGP could have their way, Malaysia would immediately spiral out of control into a lawless savage nation.
We urge the Government to immediately carry out the following measures to right the wrongs:
* An unreserved apology by the BN Government over first, the series of politically-motivated arrest since March 5 that aims to silence critics and second, the ‘uncivilized’ comment by the Home Minister and IGP regarding the role of lawyers.
* The resignation or sacking of the Home Minister, IGP, Brickfields OCP and a senior police officer in Brickfields. Minimally, the transfer of the Home Minister and the early retirement of the IGP must be done promptly. Their blatant comments against the rule of law have revealed they lack the competence and integrity to take charge of law and order. To paraphrase the Prime Minister’s slogan, it’s now “1BLACKPolice, Competence First, Resignation Now”.
* The prompt establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) which was recommended by two Royal Commissions of Inquiry. The resistance of the Prime Minister to establishing a check and balance mechanism for the police would indicate a return to Mahathirism where even the IGP is allowed to break the law by assaulting a detainee. The Prime Minister would do well in showing his goodwill by inviting the Bar Council and human rights groups to a dialogue.
We reiterate that the police reform has now become one of the two most urgent tasks for Najib. It would be at his own peril that Najib chooses to ignore the fiascos being created by the police force. Ignoring the problem will not only tarnish his desired reputation as a ‘People’s Prime Minister’ but distract the nation from whatever socio-economic reforms his administration embarks on.
Other endorsees:
1. Amnesty International Malaysia
2. National Integrity on Electoral Reform
3. CSI Parliament