©The Sun (Used by permission)
by Tim Leonard
PETALING JAYA (March 12, 2009) : Amnesty International Malaysia and Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) today expressed disappointment with the tabling of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Bill (EAIC) in Parliament yesterday.
The two non–governmental organisations (NGOs), instead, urged the government to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Police Force in 2006.
"The new Bill defeats the true intention of the Royal Commission, which essentially is to improve the professionalism of the police force and restore the dimininishing public confidence in our police service", Amnesty and Suaram said in a joint press statement.
"We also express serious concerns over the proposed structure of referral of all investigations to the Attorney–General (A–G) for enforcement, hence giving rise to concerns of selective prosecution and political decisions as in cover–ups on high–profile and politically–linked cases.
"We are also alarmed by the fact that the A–G, who is a political appointee of the prime minister, is indeed given the full final decision–making mandate which in our view defeats the notion of a case being handled and disposed off in a truly independent, just and credible manner
"We are also concerned with the scope of the newly proposed commission that covers 21 public agencies, which in our view, will make the body redundant and ineffective in its function.
"It's impossible for a single body of such limited capacity and resources to be able to handle all cases of the 21 agencies of vast differing procedures and operational order," read the statement.
Amnesty and Suaram said they would continue to lobby for the implementation of the IPCMC over and above the newly proposed commission.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Bar Council likened the proposed EAIC to a "toothless tiger" as it would have no power to act.
"The glaring weakness of the EAIC is that it will be weak because it can't take action. It can just recommend this or that ... but can't take any proper action," said Bar Council vice–president Ragunath Kesavan.
"The Bill doesn't inspire confidence. With all the recent happenings, such as A. Kugan's death in police custody, we are facing a crisis of confidence in the enforcement agency. There are so many issues," he added.
However, Transparency International–Malaysia president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said the proposed EAIC could have various panels, similar to the Malaysian Anti–Corruption Commission to handle all the 21 agencies.
"Lets give (the EAIC) a chance. If it doesn't work, then change or revamp it. No need to be too cynical or negative about it ... as the proposed EAIC is a major step forward," he added.