The Bar Council notes that in 2005, the Royal Commission to Enhance the
Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police had recommended a
comprehensive independent oversight mechanism to deal with complaints of
corruption and misconduct against the police force. Much work had been done by
the Commission to craft an appropriate mechanism after taking into account views
from all stakeholders, resulting in a proposed Independent Police Complaints and
Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill annexed to the Commission's report. The
proposed Commission was to have been established by May 2006.
Given this, the Council is extremely disappointed not only that the IPCMC in substantially the form proposed by the Commission has not seen the light of day, but in its place a Special Complaints Commission (SCC) Bill 2007 is being rushed through Parliament without proper consultation with civil society.
Although the proposed SCC covers a range of enforcement officers not only
limited to the police force, the SCC appears to be wholly inadequate in terms of
its ambit of reference and the powers to be vested in it.
Firstly, the SCC will have to rely on existing internal disciplinary and enforcement authorities in its work. It is precisely because the present internal systems are weak and non–effective that the nation needs an external oversight body which will independently carry out its work. Secondly, the SCC will not have any power to prosecute or punish, and will again have to rely on the existing authorities to do so. The position will, therefore, be back to square one.
Regrettably, the SCC will only add another layer of bureaucracy in the Government's machinery, as its work will primarily be in referring cases to the appropriate existing authorities for action. The SCC will be largely a superfluous body. Its work will only add to the costs, inconvenience and time for the complainants, the persons who are the subject of the complaint, and the respective authorities.
The Bar Council strongly urges the Government to withdraw the Bill, and call for a consultation meeting with respective stakeholders (including members of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police) with the view to putting in place an independent, effective, external oversight mechanism.
17 December 2007