A very good morning to you all.
Datuk Gaanesh Nandy, Immediate Past President, Sabah Law Association
George Varughese, Vice–President, Malaysian Bar
Dato’ Ramachelvam, Co–Chairperson of the Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC
James Deva Nayagam, Chairman of the Suriana Welfare Society
Firdaus Husni, Deputy Chairperson of Bar Council Task Force on IPCMC
Members of the Bar,
Ladies and gentlemen.
First and foremost, thank you to all the speakers who have travelled from Kuala Lumpur to be with us here today. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly — thank you to the participants for being here to share your Saturday morning with us.
I would also like to acknowledge that this is the SLA’s second collaboration with the Bar Council this year, the first being the workshop on “persons with disabilities and the law” that was successfully conducted on 16th and 17th April with the Sabah Council of Social Services. May we continue to organise future seminars of public interest together.
Today’s public forum entitled “Promoting Greater Police Accountability in Malaysia” certainly concerns the community at large. There are very compelling reasons as will be presented to you during this forum for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”) as was recommended by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police, chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, in its report published in May 2005. It has been many years since the report was presented but that does not prevent society for requesting or in fact, demanding that it be implemented. The objective being to improve public confidence in the PDRM and provide the all necessary check and balance to the institution.
This forum hopes to highlight and create awareness of cases involving police shooting and deaths in police custody in Malaysia and the measures taken or lack thereof by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (“EAIC”), which was formed instead of the IPCMC, in addressing the current situation and why it is deemed necessary to renew the call to have the IPCMC created. It has been said that the IPCMC would lead to increased integrity, efficiency, accountability and service.
To put things in perspective, it is not only Malaysia that faces this issue, other jurisdictions have to address the need for greater police accountability too. Sharon Hayes wrote in Criminal Justice Ethics: Cultivating the Moral Imagination in relation to Australia, that:
“It has long been recognised that the police are subject to special risks when it comes to experiencing ethical problems. The past two decades in Australia have seen a massive overhaul of police integrity systems in several states. Ongoing monitoring of these changes must be maintained if they are to continue to show improvements in accountability practices of the police and supporting civilian staff and in police culture…. we must continue to be vigilant in monitoring police integrity in the face of ongoing temptations, pressures and opportunities for corruption.”
This therefore begs the question — if other jurisdictions strive to improve public confidence in the police, shouldn’t more be done to enhance the perception of the police here in Malaysia?
It is widely acknowledged that there is enormous power and authority invested in the police, and unless adequate safeguards are instilled, the excesses of power at their disposal may be irresistible to some in the force.
We hope that through this forum we will identify the weaknesses in our system and perhaps touch on the practical and legal solutions that can be implemented pending the reform of the current Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.
Before we begin, please allow me to briefly introduce our speakers and panellists today.
Datuk Gaanesh needs no introduction, he was the President of the Sabah Law Association (“SLA”) from 2012 to 2015, and he is currently its Immediate Past President. He had also served as Assistant Secretary, Honorary Secretary and Vice–President from 1999 up to 2011. He is currently the Co–Chairman of the SLA’s Criminal Court Practice and the Co–Chairman for YBGK for Sabah. He has been active in conducting various seminars for the Inland Revenue Officers’ Union as well as for SUHAKAM and the Ministry of Rural Development Sabah as well as the State Attorney General’s Chambers.
George Varughese has been involved in the activities of the Malaysian Bar ever since his call to the Bar in 1991. He has been a member of the Bar Council since 2004 and has contributed to the Bar Council in various capacities, including as Treasurer, and then Secretary, of the Malaysian Bar. Prior to that, he was actively involved in the Selangor Bar Committee for many years and has served as its Chairman for three terms.
Dato’ M Ramachelvam read law at the University of Malaya and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons) in 1984. He was admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1985. He is presently the Senior Partner of Messrs Rama–Rozi & Associates. He has wide experience in handling litigation and conveyancing matters.
He is a past Chairman of the Pahang Bar Committee. He has served as a member of the Bar Council of Malaysia for eleven terms, including the current term. Presently he serves as the Chairperson of the Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee; and the Task Force on Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”) of the Bar Council of Malaysia. He was a founding member of the National Human Rights Society (“HAKAM”), and has served as the pro tem Secretary and Treasurer of HAKAM. Presently, he serves as an EXCO Member of HAKAM. Dato’ M Ramachelvam also serves as a Commissioner of the Energy Commission of Malaysia.
James Deva Nayagam was a SUHAKAM Commissioner for a six–year term (2010–2016) as the Chairperson of SUHAKAM’s Complaints, Monitoring and Inquiries Group. He holds a Master of Science (University of Leicester); LLB (Hons) (University of London); Diploma in Counselling Psychology (Singapore); and Diploma in Administration from the United Kingdom. James is the founder member of the SHELTER Home for Children, which was set up in 1981. This year marks the 35th year of commitment to providing care and protection for children in need.
Firdaus read law at the University of Malaya and graduated in 2009. Firdaus was admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in April 2010. She is now a senior legal associate at Messrs Chooi & Company, and currently a member of the Special Committee of the Bar Council. She is also the Co–Chairperson of the Bar Council Human Rights Committee and the Deputy Chairperson of the Bar Council Task Force on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
It must be recorded that the SLA had invited a PDRM representative to be present as a panellist in today’s forum, but regrettably PDRM was unable to attend.