Stakeholders claim no consultation held on new police oversight body

The IPCMC bill was first proposed in 2005 as one of several recommendations by a royal commission of inquiry.

PETALING JAYA: The chairman of the Bar Council’s task force on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has alleged that stakeholders were not consulted about a new bill to be tabled later this month, replacing the one first tabled last year.

M Ramachelvam told FMT that the Bar Council was not consulted about the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) bill, expected to be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat on Aug 26.

“I understand that even the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption was not consulted,” he added.

“From what I know, civil society organisations were also not consulted.”

Adding that such consultations were needed to ensure that the commission would be empowered to carry out its duties, he called for the inclusion of the basic features of the bill proposed by the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) in the new IPCC bill.

The RCI was set up in February 2004 following public uproar over claims of police brutality and abuse of power.

It was reported at the time that the inquiry’s bipartisan panel received over 900 complaints of abuse at the hands of police officers, including deaths in custody and physical and psychological abuse.

The panel’s full report in 2005 outlined 125 recommendations, including the establishment of an independent police oversight body.

The Barisan Nasional government at the time had opposed this, forming instead the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission in what critics called a cosmetic move.

Muhyiddin Yassin, who was home minister in the Pakatan Harapan administration, said in 2018 that the government would review the recommendation.

The decision to set up the oversight body received the agreement of the police in May 2019, after discussions between the force, the Bar Council, the home ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Public Service Department.

After the first draft reading, though, the bill was referred to a parliamentary select committee for further refinements following objections to certain clauses from the opposition.

Yesterday, Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said the Perikatan Nasional government would replace the IPCMC bill with the IPCC bill, which calls for the commission to be placed directly under the home ministry to allow the minister to monitor its progress.

The previous proposal for the IPCMC had called for it to be placed under the legal affairs division.

Ramachelvam said this could lead to conflict of interest and a lack of public trust in the independence of the commission.

“What is important is for the commission to be independent,” he said.

“The commission must be vested with investigative and enforcement powers, including disciplinary powers. Otherwise, it will be ineffective and will not fulfil the objective to bring about accountability in the police force.”