Ex-IGP: Yes to enforcement powers for oversight body but give cops right to appeal

Former top cop Mohammed Hanif Omar speaks after the launch of the Dr Mahathir Mohamad Leadership Lecture series.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former inspector-general of police (IGP) Mohammed Hanif Omar supports granting the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) enforcement power, but insists police officers charged must have the right to appeal in court.

Hanif, who was IGP from 1974 to 1994, said the police objected to the IPCMC because there was currently no recourse to appeal.

“There must always be a recourse to appeal to the court,” he told reporters at a news conference on the Dr Mahathir Mohamad Leadership Lecture series organised by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM).

“Enforcement powers here means they (IPCMC) can charge. They first investigate, then if they find that there’s a reason to charge, they can charge.

“But it should involve the court. If there’s a conviction, then the person convicted should be able to appeal. Other people have that right, why shouldn’t the police get the same?”

It was previously reported that the Bar Council task force on the IPCMC, which comprises members from various human rights NGOs, had called for the independent body to be granted enforcement power.

The IPCMC was among the recommendations of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into police reforms chaired by former chief justice Dzaiddin Abdullah in 2004.

It was intended to provide an external check and balance for the police. However, the previous government did not act on the recommendation contained in the RCI report issued in 2005.

The setting up of an IPCMC was also one of the promises in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.

Hanif said the IPCMC would have a lot of power, which was why the police could not accept its establishment in 2005.

“In 2005, the police wanted to know, why the IPCMC? Why look at the police only? What about the other government departments?

“So the government gave way and introduced something more omnibus,” he said, referring to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), which was criticised by various groups as toothless.

Hanif said the EAIC was too broad and oversaw too many departments for it to be able to carry out its functions effectively.

The Bar Council and other civil groups have pressed for the IPCMC to be set up for various reasons, one of them being the rise in police custody deaths.

Commenting on this, the ex-IGP said measures had to be taken to address deaths in custody.

He also advised the police to work within the law. “Don’t go beyond the law, the police are mandated to enforce the law but within the limitations in place,” he added.

He said if the police felt stymied by the limitations, they should take it up with the government.

“But as long as there is law, the police will also have to follow the law,” he added.

He suggested that the top cops conduct regular spot-checks on the lower-ranking officers.

“The IGP and his directors, CPOs (chief police officers) and CPDs (chiefs of police districts) must conduct regular spot-checks into their machineries. Have they got coshes in their drawers? If so, why should they be there?”

He said police officers must also be taught to recognise the signs of inmates who required medical attention.

“The police must know how to recognise all the different symptoms which need medical attention, and avoid having (inmates) die on their watch.”