Here’s what the chairperson of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) told the people those who went to complain about police brutality.
Suhakam needed more evidence before deciding on whether it should conduct a public inquiry into ‘alleged police brutality’ at a demonstration late last month. And according to him, the evidence would come from an internal police investigation into the matter.
Yes, I kid you not. Suhakam wants to wait for an internal police investigation into alleged police brutality before it would act.
Why then do we need Suhakam?
But wait, there’s more from chairperson Abu Talib. He said that Suhakam needed ‘credible’ evidence and testimonies from witnesses to determine if there was any ground for initiating an inquiry. He said the grievances expressed so far were ‘hearsay’ and ‘emotional’ rants from the injured parties and public.
So the complaints of the injured parties were hearsay? And those being bashed up by the police were emotionally ranting?
Well, in Abu Talib’s judgement, evidence and statements from the police investigation and witnesses would help to formulate the terms of reference of the public inquiry.
He said: “We need clear evidence that what is alleged in the memorandum can be supported by credible witnesses” presumably meaning the police?
He told Elizabeth Wong, secretary-general of the Human Rights Society of Malaysia (Hakam): “We cannot investigate every damn thing that you people want us to investigate.”
Of course not, especially when there are only photos and video clips to show FRU’s brutalities. We need the more reliable findings of the internal police investigation.
S Arutchelvan, Suaram secretariat member argued logically that investigating the truth behind the allegations of police brutality was exactly the mandate of the public inquiry.
He said: “We need the inquiry to find out the truth. If you don’t hold the inquiry, how would you know?”
Now, that sounds logical, though the chairperson firmly believed the findings of the internal police investigation would be more reliable.
Then he said something that the Suhakam chairperson seized upon swiftly: "If you are not interested to hold an inquiry, then we also are not interested in sitting here.”
To which Abu Talib said: “Then you're invited to leave.”
Hardly surprising when the 30-odd representatives then walked out of the room.
After the walkout, Arutchelvan dismissed Abu Talib’s statements as nonsense. He accused the Suhakam chairperson of insulting human rights organisations. He said: “There is no commitment on the part of Suhakam to hold a public inquiry. We don’t want excuses and we don’t want to hear any of this nonsense.”
Abu Talib described the walkout as “a demonstration of bias on the part of the parties”. He added that they were being unfair to the police.
All I want to say is thank goodness we have a brand new Suhakam under former Attorney General Abu Talib to look after police rights.
photos by Jeff Ooi of Screenshot