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Saturday October 12, 2013 MYT 7:40:00 PM
Saturday October 12, 2013 MYT 8:26:16 PM
by michelle tam AND tan yi liang
IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (left) and N.Surendran.
PETALING JAYA: The invitation by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar for Padang Serai MP N. Surendran to experience a shootout with criminals has been criticised by several quarters.
Lawyer Syahredzan Johan expressed concern as the action is "essentially exposing a civilian to grave danger".
On Friday, Khalid had tweeted an offer to take Surendran, who is also PKR vice-president, on a future operation for a "skin feeling of what we face when confronted by armed criminals in our ops".
Surendran accepted the offer via Twitter about three hours later, saying; " Tq. I accept".
When contacted, he said that Khalid had told him to sign an indemnity agreement, adding that he would be included in a operation against armed criminals.
"There is no law allowing the police to bring a civilian along to such a situation. A police personnel would be trained to handle such a situation and have the necessary equipment," said Syahredzan, a constitutional law activist.
Asked if the provision of body armour would suffice to prevent any untoward incident, Syahredzan said it was no guarantee that Surendran would not get hurt.
"Whenever I hear the police being criticised in other countries, you never see the chief of police asking the critics to come along for such operations," said Syahredzan.
He questioned the "logistics of attending spontaneous shoot-outs", and remains unsure how the police can foresee the occurrence of such an event for Surendran to attend.
"If the IGP wants to defend his men, he needs to do it in a manner that befits his stature as the chief of police," added Syahredzan, calling the invitation a case of "let's take it outside" (an invitation for a fight).
PKR legal bureau chief Latheefa Koya found it absurd that Khalid, a "fellow civil servant", would challenge an elected representative to attend a shoot-out with criminals.
"If the IGP wants to be transparent, they might as well release the standard operating procedure (SOP) used in a shoot-out instead of making a crazy offer. Then we can gauge whether the police follow it," she said.
Latheefa also decried the lack of an actual response to Surendran's questions about recent shoot-outs, which involved suspects who had not been charged for their crimes.
"Worst still is them asking him to sign indemnity documentation. If the police isn't doing anything wrong, why do they need Surendran to exempt them from responsibility?" she added.
It is also inappropriate for an untrained law enforcer to go on a raid just for the purpose of exhibition, said human rights lawyer Edmund Bon.
"The invitation is callous and irresponsible. For the sake of one-upmanship, you put the lives of police officials and that untrained person at stake," he added.
However, criminal defense lawyer Ragunath Kesavan said it would not be the first time a civilian was placed in such a situation.
"Reporters have been invited to the front line before. In the negative publicity surrounding the Iraq war, the US army brought in journalists to demonstrate their operations," said the Bar Council past president.
He applauded Khalid's offer, and said that Surendran's acceptance would allow a first-hand look at police operations.
Asked if there were any safety implications, he said that Surendran would "probably not be the one breaking down the door in the front-line", but accompany the command officer on-site instead.
"If it's followed through, it'll be good for the police. People would understand the risks, issues and limitations they face. The best thing to do is to bring your strongest critic," he added.
Surendran's PKR peers also had reservations about Khalid's offer.
Fahmi Fadzil slammed Khalid's invitation as well as the indemnity agreement laid out for Surendran's participation, calling Khalid's offer "a callous and irresponsible statement".
"Instead of challenging - in a careless manner, no less - people whose job it is to raise public attention on the workings of institutions like the police, it would be better for the IGP to participate in matured, constructive engagement in order to enhance the services of the police," said Fahmi in an SMS to The Star Online.
PKR deputy-president Chua Tian Chang said he had no problem with the police being transparent and showing how their operations work.
"However when the IGP spoke as if there would almost certainly be a shootout, it sounded as if the shootout was a premeditated move and not an instance of self-defence.
"How can police know for certain that there will be a shootout unless they plan already to shoot the criminals?" asked Tian Chua.
IGP invites PKR leader to join cops on shoot-out
Tags / Keywords:
Crime, Shootout, N. Surendran, Khalid Abu Bakar, Police
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