Stakeholders slam bill to check police conduct as watered down, lame

The government tabled the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill yesterday to replace the one proposed by the former PH administration.

PETALING JAYA: Stakeholders have condemned the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill tabled in Parliament yesterday, which replaces the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill proposed by the former government.

M Ramachelvam, chairman of the Bar Council task force for the IPCMC, called the bill “deeply flawed”, and said Parliament “should not proceed” with its passing.

“It has watered down the powers that were given under the previous bill,” he said.

Ramachelvam took issue with the bill’s removal of investigative and preventative powers that were in the IPCMC, and said it looked as though the commission now being proposed would only be able to take action when instances of misconduct were referred to it.

M Ramachelvam

He also said previous restrictions on current and former members of the police force being part of the commission had been removed in the IPCC.

“Potentially, a serving or retired member of the police force could be on the commission, which impinges on its independence and impartiality,” he said.

Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), said they were “appalled” by the bill, and called it “merely a bid to sidestep the consultation and recommendations made by the parliamentary select committee (which had studied the IPCMC).”

He called it an example of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government “wasting public resources, funds and time,” and added that the bill had “fatal flaws that would undermine the functions of IPCMC/IPCC and render it completely irrelevant and be a waste of public funds”.

These include provisions allowing police officers to refuse to answer to the commission if it could incriminate other officers, and the refusal to disclose information on national security grounds.

Sevan Doraisamy

The bill also requires the commission to give early notice before visiting detention centres, which has raised eyebrows as questions have been raised about the treatment of detainees.

Sevan called on the government to adopt the recommendations made by the parliamentary select committee (PSC) as the current iteration was “doomed to failure” and “will only further tarnish the reputation of the police force and affirm public mistrust of the police force”.

Ramachelvam agreed, and said the government should withdraw the bill and send it back to a PSC as well as get feedback from various stakeholders.

“The bill in its current form won’t bring about the necessary reform in the Malaysian police force,” he said.