Like the Bar Council, I don’t believe the Commission of Inquiry into the Squatgate shame has done enough considering it’s such a high powered and experienced commission, personally convened by the prime Minister to look into one of the most scandalous Abu Ghraib-ish misconduct of the Malaysian police.
It was a Commission that has been welcomed in view of, and despite the lack of action by the government on the recommendations of an earlier Commission into alleged police corruption and misconduct, with many members of the public hoping that it might catalyse the required overhaul of Malaysia's terrible law guardians.
Instead, the Commission satisfied itself with the mere identification of the nationality of the victim, which was already known to the police and ministers, and looking into the case of that sole individual. Though it had been restricted by the extremely narrow terms of reference, that shouldn't have stopped it from accepting submissions on related issues under the Commission's 4th term of reference, which states:
Investigate the standard operating procedure, approaches or regulations in the handling of body searches in connection with arrest and detention by the police, and to propose any changes if needed.
What was truly disappointing has been the commission glaring refusal to take submissions from the 5 female Chinese nationals who had suffered humiliating police abuses too. Then it compounded that inexcusable omission by rejecting a submission from the Bar Council chairman Yeo who asked for a mere 5 minutes of its time.
Why did it refuse to consider those submissions?
By so refusing it has failed to look at the bigger issue of police abuse and their uncontrolled, unmonitored, unfettered, unaccountable and unacceptable humiliating body search on detainees, even on foreigners who had merely not carry their passports with them when they moved around. Malaysian Bar Council chairman Yeo Yang Poh said:
“That, to us, is unacceptable and must change. It violates existing laws, namely, the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that any body search must be performed with strict regard to decency.”
The Commission seems adamant that the Inquiry be closed once the nationality of the Squatgate victim was known, which in reality was already known to ministers right from the very start. Maybe that explains why the deputy Inspector of Police was so cocky as to welcome an independent inquiry into the Squatgate scandal.
And as usual in Malaysia, once the authorities sensed public dissatisfaction or anger, it would wave the seditious law pertaining to racial issues to intimidate and silence members of the public who wanted to question the way the Commission has refused a number of submissions on police abuse. Predictably, Deputy Prime Minister Najib warned people not to make a racial issue of the naked ear squats incident. By categorizing the Squatgate issue as a racist issue instead of the police abuse it has always been, as with several other police cases, he hopes to impress upon his constituencies that he and the authorities are resisting parochial interests rather than human rights questions.
UPDATE: I have struck out the above 2 paragraphs which I wrote based on a Star Online news article that provided me with that impression. Since then, I have read the New Straits Times which showed DPM Najib in a completely different light, where he mentioned that:
"The most important lesson to be learnt from the nude squat case is the need to ensure that the human rights of everyone in this country is protected."I apologise for my wrong conclusion in those struckout paragraphs. However the following paragraph stays.
(1) Squatgate - Who cares about her nationality!
(2) Squatgate Yawnnnnn
(3) Squatgate - Expert Advice?
(4) 3 Police Cases - a comparative study
(5) Squatgate - Dodgy Police Excuses