The Malaysian Bar is dismayed to learn of the death of Sivabalan Subramaniam (“Sivabalan”), a security guard who recently died after being held in police custody. It was reported that Sivabalan had suffered breathing difficulties after his arrest when he was at the Gombak district police headquarters. He was later taken to Selayang Hospital, where he passed away.1
Hardly a month has passed since the tragic death of A Ganapathy. While the police have stated that Sivabalan’s death was the result of a heart attack,2 the Malaysian Bar calls for an immediate and independent investigation into this matter to ascertain the circumstances leading to his death and the cause of death. The spate of unabated deaths in custody have caused an erosion of confidence in the enforcement authorities.
Sivabalan’s death reignites our repeated clarion call to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (“IPCMC”) — an empowered, independent and external oversight body to investigate complaints against the police force. The Malaysian Bar also reiterates its call for the introduction of an independent Coroners Act pertaining to deaths under suspicious circumstances. The Government needs to act without any further delay, because one death in police custody is already one too many.
A G KALIDAS
24 May 2021
1 “Man dies less than an hour after arrest by Gombak cops”, Free Malaysia Today, 20 May 2021.
2 “Autopsy confirms Sivabalan died from heart attack”, Free Malaysia Today, 21 May 2021.