Lawyer: Home minister cannot oversee police investigations

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should not get involved in enforcement matters, says a lawyer. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The home minister cannot interfere in police investigations as the law enforcement agency is expected to uphold the rule of law for the well being of the public, a lawyer said.

S N Nair said the public was innocently ignorant in demanding the minister intervene because of past practices of the Barisan Nasional government.

“The police only answers to the law and to no one else. This means, they enforce the law correctly,” he told FMT.

Nair, who is a former police officer, said this in response to comments from the public that Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had yet to respond to the high handedness of policemen who forcefully broke into the home of lawyer Siti Kasim and then arrested her.

Siti is alleged to have abducted her client and obstructed police from carrying out their duties.

However, a magistrate yesterday dismissed the police’s application to further detain Siti for investigations.

Nair said the job of investigation, excluding exercising preventive laws, was exclusively with the police and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) had full control of the direction and proceedings.

“There can be no interference by politicians like the prime minister or the home minister,” he said.

Nair said the constitutional and legal position of the police was clearly defined by Lord Denning in the 1968 case of Regina v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, ex parte Blackburn.

He said this landmark judgment formed the bedrock of law enforcement in Commonwealth countries.

Nair said the duty of the minister was merely for the provision of budget, supplies and the effective administration of the police but not law enforcement.

“In our country, the powers of the police and the home minister have become obscured due to the previous government’s actions to benefit its political end,” he said.

Nair said this must stop and a clear delineation had to be drawn.

He said in the current system, the police were a law unto themselves and there was hardly any check and balance.

“The previous IGP Khalid Abu Bakar had veered from the law but considered the politicians as his master,” he said.

Nair said the people had no choice but to resort to civil remedy in a court of law which was an expensive and long-drawn affair.

He said only an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) mooted in 2005 could address the issue of misconduct.

“This will afford the people access to a complaint forum at no expense to seek justice swiftly,” he added.

Meanwhile, lawyer M Visvanathan said Siti could file a civil suit against the police for unlawful detention.

“But it is from the public funds that the government is going to pay damages if she wins the case,” he said.

Visvanathan said the police should learn to understand their roles and functions under the Police Act 1967.

“But they behaved like gangsters in uniform when carrying out their duties,” he said.

Lawyers renew call for special commission on police misconduct

Why would I kidnap my client, asks Siti Kasim