KUALA LUMPUR: The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) should be scrutinised along with other members of the police force by the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), says the Malaysian Bar.
Its vice-president Roger Chan said this was because Section 31(4) of the IPCMC Bill excludes the IGP from being scrutinised by the Commission, and that this provision contravenes principles under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.
“Why should the law exclude the IGP (from being scrutinised) and more importantly, why is he given the power to judge his peers, ” said Chan.
Article 8 of the Federal Constitution states that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law.
Chan was speaking to reporters at on Monday (Aug 26) after chairing a meeting with the police, civil society organisations and other stakeholders on the IPCPC Bill at the Bar Council.
According to the IPCMC Bill, a special disciplinary board will be established by the Chief Secretary to the Government to address complaints made against the IGP.
Similar views were shared by Bar Council IPCMC Task Force chairman Datuk Seri M. Ramachelvam, who said that the government's reasoning for excluding the IGP from the purview of the IPCMC was because the IGP should be treated like any other senior government servants.
“The IGP acts like a senior government servant, like the chief secretary or the attorney general. So they would come under a different discipline regime. That is their (government) logic," said Ramachelvam at the press conference.
“They seemed to say that there is an existing process and they want to follow that process, so that (the IGP) should not come under the purview of the IPCMC," he added.
Ramachelvam said that the Inspector-General of Police Standing Orders (IGSO), which is currently being placed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), should be made public.
“The entire conduct of the police is being governed by the IGSO. The IGSO are official secrets, not available to the public. Possessing a copy of them is an offence. How can misconduct be regulated if they come within the IGSO," he added.
Ramachelvam also pointed out that Clause 22(2) of the IPCMC Bill should be removed, as it stated that matters falling under Section 96 and 97 of the Police Act, is excluded from the purview of the IPCMC.
Section 96 of the Police Act deals with regulations on promotion and reduction in ranks; promotion and proficiency examinations; the definition of disciplinary offences; uniforms and arms; leave of absence, and fees for extra police services.
On the other hand, Section 97 deals with the administrative orders for the general control, direction and information of the police force.
“That is the fundamental thing that needs to be done. If not, the IPCMC will not have things to do. It will be the same old state of affairs, ” said Ramachelvam.
Presently, Clause 22(2) of the IPCMC Bill states that breaches of the IGSO are out of the scope of the IPCMC.
However, Ramachelvam acknowledged that the Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) and the police have stated to the IPCMC Taskforce that they are in the process of revising the IGSO.
“They would be going about that exercise, to come up with revised orders which may state what are the matters to be covered by the IGSO and whether those matters would come under the purview of the IPCMC. But that hasn’t been done yet. It’s still work in progress, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Bar Council constitutional law committee co-chairman Andrew Khoo said that it is important to move away from the “environment of the OSA” in order to hold the police accountable to the public.
“In more open and democratic societies, the chief police standing orders are not covered by the OSA. For example, in the United Kingdom, Australia and some provinces in Canada, these standing orders are publicly available.
“It is ridiculous that a Malaysian can know what the Canadian Standing Orders are, but we don’t know the Standing Orders of Bukit Aman, ” he said.
“The police were given great power and for that, we hold them accountable for the exercise of that power. This accountability can only come when we know whether or not they breached the rules. But how do we know they breached the rules if the rules itself are a secret?” Khoo added.
The first reading of the IPCMC Bill was tabled in the previous parliamentary session.
The IPCMC is an oversight body proposed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry in 2005 to improve the police force following a spate of deaths in custody.
The proposed IPCPC will work closely with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to crack down on corruption and abuse of power in the police force.
The IPCMC Bill is expected to be tabled for second reading and passed in Parliament later this year.
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