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Friday, 21 June 2013


Datuk Vaithilingam at the Proham June 18, 2013 discussions
By Datuk A.Vaithilingam (Hon Proham member)                                                                    

This outline of a talk highlights 5 key matters for our consideration:-

Freedom to practice one's own religion is allowed.
Muslims in Malaysia restricted in freedom? Apostasy?

Lots of restrictions to non-Muslims, viz Allah, halal, Islamisation, etc

Much improvement from the year 2008 in the building of pplaces of worship.

Restriction on heights, site too near a mosque, hardly any consideration given in new housing development projects.
Unreasonable restriction on bringing priests, temple musicians, religious speakers, etc.

 1988 saw establishment of 2 Courts -- one Civil Court & the other Syariah Court.

 It has strengthened 'apostasy' in all states.
Contradicting decisions of the 2 separate Courts have put implementation on a standstill with Syariah Court having the edge.

In my opinion the Civil Court Judges have abdicated their powers very sheepishly.
Taken advantage of the govt machinery in unethical conversion cases of children.

Similarly Government machinery is used to claim bodies of people never seen to have practiced Islam.

For many years now the AG has been delaying the revision of the Family Laws especially with a need to protect the non Muslims being victimised by Syariah Courts.
Civil Marriages must be deemed as the original vow and oath been already taken earlier. Therefore, any spouse should not runaway from the original responsibility even after conversion to Islam.

On the conversion of children the law which states that the permission of the 'Parent' is required should be taken as both the mother & father. In the English language 'parent' is meant to be both mother & father.

It must be admitted that the Govt has been quite liberal in celebration of religious festivals. Even public holidays have been given. Processions have been permitted.
It is necessary for all parties concerned to avoid sensitive issues & displays.

Thoughts presented by Datuk A Vaithilingam on June 18, 2013 at the Proham June 2013 discussions.


Tan Sri Simon at the Proham discussion held on June 18, 2013
By Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)

Now that the general elections have come and gone, it is time to move on and hopefully in the right direction.
BN & Good Governance
The BN government should govern as the trustees of the people and in line with good governance. It is now time for the government to really walk the talk and not blame a particular community for any shortfall.

Suggesting citizens to leave the country if they are not happy with the election results is uncalled for and does not reflect favorably on the government Minister who made the call. This country is not owned by the government or any of its leaders and they have no right or locus standi to make such suggestion.
Arresting opposition leaders and politicians or barring them from entering a particular state are against the spirit and principles of human rights and not in line with the idea of reconciliation.

The government needs to bear in mind that loyalty to the country is not the same as loyalty to the party in power.
Urban – Rural Divide: Access to information

It cannot be denied that in the urban and semi-urban areas, particularly in Sabah and Sarawak, the people are more literate, more informed, have better access to the internet and alternative media. They are more aware of what the government is up to and in a much better position to make assessment more objectively. It is not easy for the government to hide the truth.
Unfortunately this is not the case, for the time being, in the rural areas. A lot of information does not reach them. However it will be only a matter of time before the situation changes.

Opposition & Constructive Criticism
The opposition has a very important role to play in a democratic system of government. If the authorities keep being insensitive to popular demand and abuse power to intimidate and harass people who cannot see eye to eye with the government, they will run the risk of public revolt.

The opposition for its part should provide constructive criticisms and keeps the government on its toes and ensure that it fulfills and delivers what it has promised. At the same time the government should not forget that it is not a popular government. Democracy is associated with the government of the majority. The current government won through excessive gerrymandering and other alleged electoral frauds.

Datuk V. Vaithalingam – New Proham Hon Member
On behalf of PROHAM, I thank Datuk V. Vaithalingam for accepting PROHAM’s invitation to become an honorary member of PROHAM. I am confident that you will all agree with me when I say that Datuk Vaithalingam’s presence in PROHAM will go a long way towards assisting PROHAM’s effort in trying to make a difference in the promotion of human rights and creating and maintaining respect for human rights culture in the country.

Datuk Vaithalingam needs no introduction. He is a very well known figure and personality in the country. He was the former President of Hindu Sangam as well as former President of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).
I have known Datuk Vaithalingam for well over 20 years. I first became associated with him in the early 1990s in the National Unity Panel. I have also met him in many forums over the years. I find him a very down to earth person, fair-minded with a very balanced view. I am very delighted that Datuk Vaithalingam has agreed to share his thoughts and reflections on inclusive society and reconciliation from an inter-religious point of view.
Tan Sri Simon Sipaun’s Remarks at the PROHAM discussion on Inclusive Society and Reconciliation: Reflections from an inter-religious point of view held on June 18, 2013 at 8pm at Dignity International Meeting Room, PJ.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Proham: Caning as violation of human rights

PROHAM is deeply concerned over a first group of syariah offenders which included twenty-two women among the 39 who received six strokes of the cane in closed quarters of the Kluang prison in Johor .

We are further alarmed that the  Johor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIJ) is actually debating for canning to be carried out in public or in mosques.
We respectfully understand that these punishments are in line with the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment, however PROHAM is of the view that it is time for Malaysia to review these laws including the Criminal Penal Code that allow for corporal punishment.

We do not support corporal punishment for both men and women irrespective of their faith. Furthermore Muslim women suffer an added discrimination as women of other faiths do not have to suffer this form of cruel punishment.    
Although corporal punishments were common forms of punishment in medieval society regardless of their religious faiths, such punishments are now regarded as cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment. Canning a man or a woman for any offence is archaic and inconsistent with a compassionate and just society.

Malaysia as a member of to the Human Rights Council should be inspired to uphold universal human rights principles and Proham calls on the Malaysian Government to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

PROHAM also urges the Government to immediately review and abolish all forms of punishment involving caning and proceed to comply with international human rights norms and principles on punishment.
Issued on behalf of PROHAM by Ms Ivy Josiah (Proham member), Datuk Kuthbul Zaman (Proham Exco) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General)

June 17, 2013

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Proham Human Rights June 2013 Discussions

Date:                 June 18 (Tuesday), 2013
Time :                8pm to 10pm
Venue :             Dignity International - A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8,
                          Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Tel/Fax: +603 7931 0741
Introduction & Welcome:          Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)
We are doing the program in 2 parts - Both contemporary themes from a human rights perspective:-
1) Part one (8pm to 9pm) :
Inclusive Development & Reconciliation from an Inter-religious perspective.
Talk by Datuk A Vaithalingam (our new proham hon member) is sharing some thoughts (15 minutes). Then discussion.
2) Part two (9pm to 10pm) :
Death in custody and related matters like IPCMC.
Talk by Ms Ivy Josiah (Former Royal Police Comm and Proham member) will share some thoughts (15 minutes) - then discussion
Proham will issue a statement on both these issues by the next day.
Please confirm participation by email:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Brief Paper presented on June 11, 2013
By Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria


1          What do we do when a death takes place?

1.1        Amendments to the CPC on Inquest procedures
            1.2        Role of the IPCMC in the inquest

2          How do we prevent death in custody?
            2.1        Ratification of the UN Convention against Torture

2.2        Enhancing Investigative Policing
            2.3        Check & Balance Measures

 Appendix (not included here)
Appendix 1 - RPC recommendation including the draft amendments to the CPC

Appendix 2 – RPC Recommendations on IPCMC
Appendix 3 – Article on Eliminating Misconduct through the IPCMC

Appendix 4 - RPC chapter 10 on ‘Code of Practice relating to the arrest & detention of Persons’
Appendix 5 – Proham Press Release (June 3, 2013)

The recent cases of death in custody has revived public demand for an independent mechanism which can address this issues as there is a loss of public confidence in existing institutions.

Comments here draw from two sources namely the reports of two Royal commissions:-
·         Report of the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian     Police (RPC)

·         Royal Commission to enquire into the death of Teoh Beng Hock (RC-TBH)

It is important to note that in the 2004-2005 all the current public concerns were addressed and major recommendations made which were not seriously reviewed by the Federal Government nor implemented.
The current public outcry has further forced the government to revisit these issues and therefore it will be helpful to study the two Royal Commission reports as well as other inquiry reports prepared by SUHAKAM

The public concerns are addressed in two questions. Brief analysis and recommendations are drawn from the two Royal commission reports.
It is important to note that the RPC did not give a singular solution to the issue at hand but a multiple range of interventions which are needed to be in place. A singular approach will not solve the problem.

1.1        Amendments to the CPC on Inquest procedures

The RPC in its report (2005) recognised deaths in custody as “a serious cause for concern”. It went on to note that “of even greater concern is the fact that inquest were only held for 6 of the 80 deaths” in the period 2000 -2004 “when s334 of the CPC makes it mandatory for the magistrate to conduct an inquest”.
The RPC concluded “that the current provisions for inquiry into deaths in police custody in the CPC are not sufficiently rigorous and do not provide for a transparent and accountable process. The Commission therefore recommends that section 331, 332, 333, 334, 335, 337 and 338 be amended.

It is of utmost importance that the immediate CPC provisions so that section 334 is amended that “the Magistrate shall immediately examine the body 'in situ' and shall direct the officers to investigate and draw up a report of the apparent cause of death…”
Refer to Appendix 1 for the RPC recommendation including the draft amendments to the CPC

1.2        Role of IPCMC in the inquest
The IPCMC was proposed as an external oversight body after studying the systems in the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong. A draft bill was also prepared by the commission for the speedy tabling of the IPCMC

In response the federal government first introduced in 2008, the Special Complaints Commission (SCC), which did not secure the support of a majority of Malaysians and there were also objections from the back benchers in Parliament.
In its place a new bill entitled Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Bill (EAIC) was tabled in parliament on March 11, 2009 which finally became law and today is in operations.

Public opinion is against the EAIC as it is perceived to be a weak replacement of the original IPCMC and because since its establishment it has not been able to win the confidence of the Malaysian public that it could serve as an effective external oversight mechanism.
While there are many points of similarities and difference between the EAIC and the IPCMC, the most critical and fundamental is that the EAIC have no legal powers to act independently other than channelling the findings to relevant agencies.

This is similar in the case of Suhakam which is advisory. While Suhakam has done lots of good work and has gained much public confidence in Malaysian public, at the end it too is not effective due to the limitation of powers.
The power to act independently and implement the findings in terms of directly taking action on the guilty officer and by-passing the disciplinary authority or the public prosecutor is the core difference between the EAIC and the proposed IPCMC.

 “IPCMC may, after having decided that a police officer is guilty of misconduct or other offences defined in the IPCMC Act, order such actions as it deems fit to be taken including caution and discharge of the police officer, suspension of allowances and increments, reduction in rank, fine or dismissal of the police officer. The decision of IPCMC is final and unappeallable”
Ref to Appendix 2 – RPC Recommendations on IPCMC

Ref to Appendix 3 – Article on Eliminating Misconduct through the IPCMC
 It is important to note that the RPC did not recommend the IPCMC to replace the role of the Magistrate as per the CPC. In the case of the Magistrate the role is to conduct an inquest to determine cause and circumstance of death.

The role of the IPCM would be to investigate if the Police were involved in any way in the death of the detainee.
The RC-TBH made the ref on pg 5  to the "a blue wall of silence based on brotherhood ties among officers of the organisations involved". An effective external mechanism is needed which has the adequate powers is urgently needed to address these issues as well as regain public confidence.

2.1        Ratification of UN Convention against Torture

The RC-TBH indicates on pg 119 (364) “…custodial death is perhaps one of the worst crimes in a civilised society governed by the rule of law. We are of the view that the bulwarks of the rule of law have to be strengthened to eliminate any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment whether it occurs during the investigation, interrogation or otherwise by a law-enforcement agency such as the MACC"
The United Nations in 1984 passed the Convention against Torture and other cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 153 countries are parties to this convention. Malaysia is together with 4 Asean countries that did not ratify namely Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei & Vietnam. However Asean countries like Philippines (1986), Indonesia (1998), Cambodia (1992), Thailand (2007) and Laos (2012) 

Ratification of a UN Convention is an important global benchmark. Malaysian being a member of the UN Human Rights Council and also active Asean member should be closer to Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand on this ratification matter.
Ratification will give both the Malaysian and International community that we are series in benchmarking our practices based on international standards especially in methods used during investigations and question of suspects or witnesses

RC-TBH: page 37 "(119)
“having considered all the evidence in its entirety, we found the TBH was driven to commit suicide by the aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation to which he was subjected by certain officers of the MACC.."

2.2        Enhancing Investigative Policing
The RPC devoted a whole chapter on Enhancing Investigative Policing. This is found in chapter 8 and 26 specific recommendations are given. Central to these recommendations is a clear commitment to improve the standards of investigations by building the capacities of the officers involved

One of these recommendations is Recommendation & which is ‘establish reasonable grounds before arrest’. In this context the RPC recommended that “IOs must not practice the policy of ‘arrest first, investigate later’”.
The RPC made reference to proactive investigations – ‘intelligence, evidence based crime control systems’

Recommendations are made for improving training of investigation officers. The current case lead of IO needs to be reviewed so as to ensure what a manageable case work load per IO for effective investigations.
The underlining issues and concerns for public review are the interrogation methods and this must now come under public review to determine if methods used are lawful and moral consistent with the Un Convention on Torture

2.3        Check & Balance Measures
The RPC also called for the adoption of a code of practice relating to arrest and detention of persons including the need for independent custody officers in every Police station who shall be responsible for the welfare and custody of every detainee.

Other measures include the use of 24 hour camera surveillance, use of officers pocket book. These should be reviewed so as to ensure there a range of measures to prevent abuses and misconduct and if it does take place to identify it early

Please refer to Appendix 4  from RPC chapter 10 on ‘Code of Practice relating to the arrest & detention of Persons’ with a draft copy of the Principles and Code of Practice.

Monday, 10 June 2013


by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

The recent incidents of death in police lockups have revived the call for the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) which was proposed in 2005 by Royal Police Commission.

The IPCMC was proposed as an external oversight body after studying the systems in the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong. A draft bill was also prepared by the commission for the speedy tabling of the IPCMC
In response the federal government first introduced in 2008, the Special Complaints Commission (SCC), which did not secure the support of a majority of Malaysians and there were also objections from the back benchers in Parliament.

In its place a new bill entitled Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Bill (EAIC) was tabled in parliament on March 11, 2009 which finally became law and today is in operations. Public opinion is against the EAIC as it is perceived to be a weak replacement of the original IPCMC and because since its establishment it has not been able to win the confidence of the Malaysian public that it could serve as an effective external oversight mechanism.
While there are many points of similarities and difference between the EAIC and the IPCMC, the most critical and fundamental is that the EAIC have no legal powers to act independently other than channelling the findings to relevant agencies.

This is similar in the case of Suhakam which is advisory. While Suhakam has done lots of good work and has gained much public confidence in Malaysian public, at the end it too is not effective due to the limitation of powers.
The power to act independently and implement the findings in terms of directly taking action on the guilty officer and by-passing the disciplinary authority or the public prosecutor is the core difference between the EAIC and the proposed IPCMC.

 “IPCMC may, after having decided that a police officer is guilty of misconduct or other offences defined in the IPCMC Act, order such actions as it deems fit to be taken including caution and discharge of the police officer, suspension of allowances and increments, reduction in rank, fine or dismissal of the police officer. The decision of IPCMC is final and unappeallable”

Objections against the IPCMC
Since 2005 civil society and the general public have been calling for the establishment of an effective external oversight body. However there were many objections to this provision in the IPCMC proposal by the Police.

The argument used was no single institution should be empowered to undertake investigation, prosecution and finally making a judgment without an appeal process with the IPCMC.
Another objection is that this direct action will usurp the role of the Police Service Commission which is a Constitutional provision.

In response it is indicated that there would be no conflict as the IPCMC is neutral. The recommendations indicated that the IPMC Chair and Deputy must have 10 years of working experience as an advocate and solicitor.
On the matter of no appeal within IPCMC it must be stated that this is similar in the case of the Industrial court and therefore appeals could be made to the civil court and therefore not at IPCMC

On the matter of conflict with other laws, those sections could be amended including the Federal Constitution by transferring the disciplinary provisions to IPCMC. There will have to be some by-partisan discussion in Parliament on this matter to secure 2/3 vote in parliament.
Civil Society & IPCMC

Civil society criticism and scepticism on this matter is based on the current provisions in the Suhakam Act that after conducting an inquiry on human rights violations, Suhakam then makes the recommendations to the relevant agencies to take appropriate action. In a majority of cases the relevant agencies ignore the findings and Suhakam is deemed as powerless. Furthermore Suhakam’s Annual report has never been discussed in Parliament and therefore accountability to Parliament is neglected.
Another criticism levelled by civil society on the current practice by enforcement agencies and relevant institutions is selective prosecution especially in cases pertaining to corruption or in the exercise of fundamental liberties. Based on this track record and ineffective action by the State, IPCMC was proposed to act independently.

The current concern over EAIC is similar to that of Suhakam which has the powers to undertake an inquiry and make recommendations but ineffective to ensure that the human rights violators are brought to the books.
Value of External Oversight Mechanisms

The external mechanisms must operate in an independent, transparent, accountable, just and fair manner. All agencies must be held accountable to respond in a credible and professional manner. Senior ranking public officials must be accountable to how they respond to the independent findings of inquiry and investigations undertaken by external oversight mechanisms.
In order to strengthen the internal mechanisms, capacity building within each of the enforcement agencies is important through effective training, supervision and monitoring mechanisms. Each of the enforcement agencies must establish a high standard of professional conduct for its officers.

There must be zero tolerance for indiscipline and misconduct. This must become an agency culture. Internal cover-up and in house protections must be eliminated. The role of the senior officers and civil servants are imperative to foster professional and ethical conduct.
In the best interest of the nation, the IPCMC must be established as proposed in 2005. This will enhance professionalism, good governance by checking on corruption and abuse of power is more effective way as compared to the current measures. We must push ourselves to a higher standard of check and balance. Modern Malaysians are demanding for this and it is the role of political leadership to do the right thing for the good of the nation.
Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria was a former member of the Royal Police Commission (2004-2005), the Human Rights Commission (2006- 2010) and currently serves as the Secretary General of Proham (Society for the promotion of human rights established by former members of the Police and Human Rights commission

Published in Malaya Mail on June 10, 2013

Sunday, 9 June 2013


By Shahanaaz Habib (Sunday Star- June 9, 2013)

The recent spate of custodial deaths has renewed calls for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.
LIKE many, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun is baffled by the three deaths in police custody in a matter of just 11 days.

“If it's someone old and frail like me then it's possible, but these three men who died are in their 30s and 40s. They are much younger than even my youngest son.
“It is unlikely that young people, after a few days in police custody, die of a heart attack or other natural causes,” says the former Suhakam vice-chairman who finds the situation alarming.

He doesn't think the police will ever readily admit it's their fault when men die in their custody, and given the circumstances, he says, the public are not going to believe what the police say either.
On May 21, 32-year-old N. Dhamendran held for suspected involvement in a fight died in detention at the KL police headquarters lockup; on May 27, 40-year-old Jamesh Ramesh detained for drugs was found dead in his Penang police headquarters' cell; and on June 1, Karuna Nithi, 42, charged with assaulting his wife over a domestic matter died in detention at the Tampin police station.

The police initially said Dhamendran had died from a heart attack. It was only after pressure from his family, NGOs and the public, that shocking details of his death finally emerged. His ears had been stapled, he had puncture wounds on his ankles and other injury marks on his body.
The four policemen allegedly responsible were identified, put on desk duty first, then suspended, before largely due to public outrage three were finally charged for murder. The fourth cop, an inspector, has gone into hiding.

“If you report about the police to the police, how do you expect them to act? You can't trust the police to investigate one of their own because the tendency is to protect their own,” says Sipaun, who like many others have been making renewed calls for the Government to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
“It's not fair for the Government to delay IPCMC anymore by finding all sorts of excuses or for them to have an internal disciplinary committee within the police. The police can't investigate themselves,” he says.

When Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was Prime Minister, a top-notch 16-member Royal Commission was appointed to look into enhancing the operations and management of the police and turn it into a respected and formidable enforcement body; IPCMC was one of the key recommendations in the 576-page report that was released in 2005.
But when the Government tried to set up the IPCMC, there was stiff resistance from the police who said it was unfair to single them out.

Two years ago, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) was set up instead, to look into complaints involving 19 enforcement agencies, one of which is the police.
But people like Sipaun have been less than impressed with the EAIC.

“The EAIC has proven to be ineffective. Its scope is too general. Although millions have been spent on it, it has taken disciplinary action on only one case,” he says.
Last month, former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad had questioned the capability of EAIC. He noted that of the 347 complaints received, only 60 were referred for full investigation, and of this, only three were fully investigated. He said since EAIC was set up two years ago, only one disciplinary action and two warnings have been handed down, making the RM14mil spent on it over the period “very costly indeed.”

Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria was one of the 16 who sat in the Royal Police Commission that came up with the report and the IPCMC proposal. He feels the report is as relevant today as it was back in 2005 because “all the same issues have resurfaced”.
Sipaun: ‘You can’t trust the police to investigate one of their own because the tendency is to protect their own’ Sipaun: ‘You can’t trust the police to investigate one of their own because the tendency is to protect their own’

“You don't need another panel. You can re-study the report and implement it because it is the same issues.”
There had been 80 deaths in custody from 2000 to 2004 when the commission started its work and inquests were conducted only for six.

“Our report states there must be an inquest conducted for every death in custody, whether it is from natural causes, an accident or other reasons. There must be an independent process that is judicial,” he says.
Despite the report, the number of custodial deaths has continued to go up.

Last September, then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein told Parliament there were 209 deaths in police custody from 2000 till Sept 2012. Suaram's co-ordinator R. Thevarajan, who has been keeping tabs on custodial deaths since then, says that number has now risen to 221.
“These are cases we know of but the number might be higher because some go unreported,” he says.

Being a member of the commission, Dr Denison is naturally in favour of the IPCMC. He thinks the police shouldn't be so defensive because it protects policemen as well.

“Death in custody has to be treated in a serious way. The measures given by the commission must not be seen as undermining the police but they actually protect the interest of the police because there is an independent person to verify a death.
“For example, if I lock you up and you die and I am accused of killing you when you might have died from natural causes or committed suicide, this independent body can vindicate and clear me,” he says.

For him, a police station should be the safest place in the country for anybody to be in - even for a criminal. And policemen being “the men of the law” should be seen as defenders of human rights not violators.
“Someone might be the worst criminal in town who has beaten up over 100 people but that doesn't justify the man-in-uniform (policeman) hammering him up to get a confession. That is such an ancient style of doing things,” he opines.

For Dr Denison, when the police detain someone in the lockup, they have to be doubly sure that they want to take that risk.
“If you can't make sure a suspect is safe in the lock up, then don't lock him up. The onus is on you. He might be safer outside and you can call (him) in for questioning instead of detaining him,” he says.

He thinks it is important that Malaysia ratifies the UN Convention Against Torture because this will show that the country (and its police) are not willing to engage in torture to extract information. This will also bring the police's methods and standards of investigation in line with the mininum global standards.
Dr Denison: ‘Someone might be the worst criminal in town but that doesn’t justify hammering him up to get a confession’ Dr Denison: ‘Someone might be the worst criminal in town but that doesn’t justify hammering him up to get a confession’

He points out too that accusations of police brutality and excessive use of force is a global phenomenon, not just in Malaysia.
It is just a matter of being held accountable, he adds.

“Everytime the police shoots somebody, there will be an enquiry to find out if it's justifable to shoot.”
While much of the discussion since the deaths in custody have centred around the need for the IPCMC, Dr Denison says this is not enough: it is essential to improve the police's skills on gathering intelligence, conducting investigations, and effective interrogation techniques, including asking the right questions, detecting inconsistencies and “trapping” suspects based on their own arguments and inconsistencies.

He thinks it is unfortunate that less than 25% of the police force are involved in actual investigative policing as there is a greater need to step up policing as well as increase the numbers.
He points out that standard operation procedure (SOP) too is central for the police, “Is there excessive questioning? What was the SOP when you arrested him? When did you question him and did you need to keep him in the cell?”

He hopes this holistic approach would help bring about a world-class police force.
MIC strategic director Vell Paari says the word (police) “force” is due for change.

“Why use the word force'? During the early days when the police were fighting Communists, they had to use force' because it was appropriate then. But now the country, the people, society have changed. The police are offering a service, so why not change the terminology to police service' instead of force to reflect that change?” he argues.
On Friday, Vell Paari and a group of NGOs met with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Paul Low to discuss the death-in-custody issue.

With the recent spate of deaths in custody, he believes people are afraid to go to the police to lodge a report because they might get detained and end up as another death-in-custody victim.
He lauds the government's proposal for a permanent coroner's court to look into deaths in custody cases as “fantastic”.

“But we made it clear that the EAIC, in its present form, can't be accepted because it is a watered-down version of the IPCMC. We stood firm on the need for the IPCMC. If the government wants to keep the EAIC, it should incorporate all the powers of the IPCMC into it,” he says.
(The IPCMC has the power to prosecute, while the EAIC can only refer a case back to the Attorney-General for prosecution).

Still appalled at how Dhamendran's ears had been stapled in police detention, he asks:
“Where are they teaching the police this kind of interrogation methods?

“Whether a person is a criminal or not is up to the courts to decide.
“And why is it that only after there is so much drama' and outcry that action is taken and the truth comes out,' he asks.

Vell Paari thinks action should also be taken against the police officers who gave out the false information that the deaths were due to natural causes and had nothing to do with the police.
“People are losing confidence in the police force. The country is evolving and people's demands and understanding are different now but the police are still using the old methods,” he notes.

Some think the police are having a hard time and all the criticism is demoralising them but Vell Paari disagrees.
“If the police is demoralised, you can do something and motivate them. But if a life is gone, it's gone. You can never get it back,” he says.


By Farik Zolkepli   ( ) (STAR) Tuesday June  4, 2013

PETALING JAYA: The Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) has called for the current Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to be amended to allow a magistrate to immediately examine the body of a person who died in police custody.
Proham secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria made the call in the light of the recent deaths of N. Dhamendran, Jamesh Ramesh and P. Karuna Nithi which has raised many questions on custodial deaths especially with regards to the investigation methods used while holding suspects in remand.

He said that once the magistrate has examined the body in a custodial death, he could then direct the police on what to do.
Dr Denison noted that the Royal Police Commission in its report (2005) had recognised deaths in custody as “a serious cause for concern”.

“It went on to note that of even greater concern is the fact that inquests were only held for six of the 80 deaths,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Denison was a member of the Royal Police Commission, which was formed to reform and review police operations.

“The Royal Police Commission also called for the adoption of a code of practice relating to arrest and detention of persons including the need for independent custody officers in every police station.
“Proham notes that these recommendations made by the Royal Police Commission in 2005 have not been implemented,” he said.

He added that Proham calls on the Federal Government to adopt recommendations, including, amending the CPC and for the formation of the Independent Police Com-plaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said only an IPCMC could prevent needless custodial deaths.

“The number of custodial deaths since 2000 is 219, a shocking figure that is sure to rise without any safeguards and preventive mechanism such as the IPCMC.
“There is no reason why the Government refuses to look into such oversight of the police when it is recommended in 2005 by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police,” he said.


By Shahanaaz Habib  Kuala Lumpur  (Sunday STAR June 9, 2013:)

It is crucial to build and improve the capability and capacity of police investigation in dealing with the problem of death in police custody, said Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.
He said having an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) would be good but that alone would not resolve the situation.

“Police brutality is used to extract information because if you just bring a guy in and want him to talk, chances are he won't tell you the truth.
“So you have to trap the person through other evidence. We have very good forensics now but there has to be more investigative policing. The police have to do their homework. They have to improve the quality of their investigations and their ability to ask questions.

“And there is a need for more personnel because currently less than 25% of the police are involved in investigative policing.
“The rest are doing escort service and other protection work,” said Dr Denison, who was a member of the Royal Police Commission in 2005 that looked into enhancing the operation and management of the force and came up with the recommendation to set up the IPCMC.

He pointed out that in a number of developed countries when there was a murder, a team including a psychologist, detectives and other experts would go down to study the case.
“You can't have just the everyday policemen solve repetitive crime in an area. You need trained professionals in their field of expertise,” he added.

There has been an outcry of late when people being detained in police lockups have died. Last month, there were three deaths in police custody within 11 days.
Groups have renewed calls to set up the IPCMC to address the problem of deaths in custody.

Dr Denison said the culture of “hammering suspects” to extract information had to change because it violated human rights.
“Police stations should be the safest place any person can go to, even if he was a criminal but public perception now is that it is not safe.”

Dr Denison also said the standard operation procedure (SOP) was central to addressing the issue.
“What is the SOP when you arrest a suspect? When do you question him? Do you put him in a cell and is he there alone?”
© 1995-2013 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Monday, 3 June 2013


 By Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria 

Forty one people from civil society and academic institutions gathered on May 14, 2013 to review the outcome of GE 13 and to set a new agenda for inclusive development and national reconciliation.
In moderating the discussion, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the former Higher Education Deputy Minister called for a new social consciousness and realisation that the people have made their choice and the people have spoken. In this context he affirmed that there was a real need for a new conversation.

We recognise the link between national reconciliation, inclusive development and human rights where the focus must be that all people irrespective of the ethnic, religious, political, socio-economic, age, gender or geographical location must have access and equal opportunities to prosperity, harmony, happiness and quality of life
In the course of the discussion we identified four major themes which have a direct impact on inclusive development, human rights and national reconciliation.

The discussion on May 21, 2013 further reviewed these ideas and built on them. These are now tabled for the discussions on May 28, 2013 to build on add further content to these.

1.         There is a need to recognise the new socio-political realities which are changing the landscape of Malaysian politics in the Post GE 13 context
There is a shift from traditional race -religious politics to other social-political realities. While certain sections have articulated the GE 13 as a ‘Chinese tsunami’, the dominant view based on voter analysis is an ‘urban tsunami’. The ‘axes of polarization’ which moves beyond the inter-ethnic to encompass intra-ethnic and takes the urban-rural divide, the inter-generational divide (Merdeka generation to Generation X), the prosperity-poverty gap of class; the tradition media oriented rural population with the social media community of the urban must be the dominant analysis.
It was well articulated that there is a power conflict between the state (political & bureaucratic machinery) on the one hand and the general society including civil society on the other where there is a demand for greater public space and accountability.

In this context there must be a shift away from over simplification of socio-political realities from a race-religion divide and recognise the emergence of a two-party system both with political parties supporting an appreciation for diversity of ethnicity, religious persuasion and cultural richness and diversity. An appreciation and acceptance of these are essential in modern political thought in Malaysia society.
2.         There is a need to review the development paradigm towards one that that is holistic,              comprehensive and integrated.

While Malaysia has a good track record of development planning, the priority and focus has been on economic and social development. This has had a right impact in improving the overall quality of life shifting a majority of Malaysians out of poverty. This improvement in the socio-economic position has resulted in citizen’s demand for beyond basic needs toward democracy, human rights, transparency and good governance
There is therefore an urgent need to review the development paradigm towards one which will give equal balance to economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand but without suppressing civil and political rights on the other. In this context of good governance are also environmental and sustainable concerns which must be part of the development process and not an after-thought. 

This balance approach is consistent with the nine challenges identified in Vision 2020 as the overall development goal for Malaysia. That vision is balance and therefore we must ensure compliance to this vision as it is only 7 years away.

Malaysia is a signatory to a number of UN declarations which has not been adequately recognized in the planning and implementation process. While declarations are not legally binding like the UN conventions nonetheless Malaysia signing them implies that we are in support of this aspiration and vision. Therefore it must be logical for Malaysian policy makers to be consistent with the UN aspirations which Malaysia is also a part of.
Three key documents are helpful in this context of inclusive development. They are:

The UN Declaration on the Right to Development (1986)
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)

The UN Rio Declaration on Environment & development (1992)
The UN Rio + 20 Declaration “The Future we want”

Malaysia made commitments for inclusive and sustainable development agenda along with nations of the world. Now it is important that at the national level we apply these principles into public policy and for effective implementation.
In addition Malaysia should also sign all the major human rights conventions and work towards ensuring every law and program is inclusive and in compliance with international standards and consistent with the Federal Constitution.

Malaysia has had a very good standing in fulfilling its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) however a similar development for a National Human Rights Action Plan is essential over the next five years.
There is a need to undertake impact assessment and review of data from a disaggregated analysis especially to review micro community realities.

There is a need to focus attention on inequalities not just across inter-ethnic lines but also intra ethnic divide. The disparities between the top 20% and the bottom 40% are indeed wide in Malaysian society. This must be addressed not with cash handouts but in addressing the structural and institutional concerns which is impacting uneven growth.
3.         There is a need to strengthening inclusive & participatory development 

Very often the poor and disadvantaged are seen as mere recipients of services and cash hand-outs. There must be a rights based approach which enhances human dignity, human rights and responsibilities.
In this context the authorities must introduce social dialogue process and increase people’s participation in the decision making process. A stronger consultative process must be instituted especially when development impact the Orang Asli community and other indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak.

The empowerment of the grassroots and self-determination is most essential. Consultation must be really meaningful engagement towards “free, prior and informed consent”. This theme of consultation and participation is fundamental to a partnership and people centered development approach.
The Social Impact Assessment component to development is very weak and priority is low. This must be reviewed and strengthened along with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In this context the terms and conditions must be altered to ensure that it is an independent process under a regulatory agency and not commissioned and funded by the contractors and business parties as it is now undertaken.

In addition the Federal government must introduce local government elections for grassroots democracy to be operations. There is currently a lot of urban grievance, discontentment unrest and political awakening. This is largely due to ineffective local government services which are not accountable and responsive to ordinary people.
The current urban suffering is experienced by dwellers at public and low cost urban high rise housing. There is much neglect of urban public space and the flat dwellers are alienated from local governance.

Malaysia is party to the Rio Declarations (1992 and 2012) and therefore there is a need for a review of Agenda 21 for effective engagement with citizens and be inclusive in managing the city and urban neighborhoods. A number of pilot projects were implemented in Malaysia with the MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council) being the most effective and well known in this implementation. This could be reviewed and expanded. Therefore, mechanisms for people’s participation in development are most essential.

4.         There is a need for major Institutional changes which will enhance democracy and inclusive development
Institutional transformation for inclusion and reconciliation is most essential – twelve major aspects are highlighted.

Civil Service
The civil service must be sensitive to the diversity of Malaysian society and provide service which is free from ethnic, religious, political, age, gender biases. The composition of the civil service must take both the Constitutional balance and changing social realties especially in urban areas.

Pubic democratic space
The public space must be protected so as to enable open discussions and conversations. Government agencies must institute public discussions and open to civil society discussion. In a similar way there must be more open discussion with young people.

The Police and authorities must adopt a more liberal reading of the laws especially for peaceful engagement and must be seen as the protectors of this human right without fear or favor.

Political parties
It was proposed that there should be an end to race and religious based political parties and the focus should be towards a more inclusive and ideology based politics. The Barisan Nasional should seriously restructure itself in this process.

Parliamentary Democracy
Parliamentary reform is at the heart of this change. The Parliament must be free from executive control and must manage its own affairs.

In this context there must be great bipartisan work among the MPs of the political divide.
More parliamentary select committees must be established including public funds used to establish a shadow cabinet and strengthening the role of the opposition in parliament as an effective check and balance.

There has to be some review of the Upper house so as to fulfil the original vision of the Senate so that it can serve as an effective check and balance
Independent Mediating institutions

The independence of these institutions such as MACC, Election Commission, Suhakam, & EAIC is most critical to ensure public confidence is high at all times. They should be accountable to Parliament. They should not operate from Putrajaya but be closer to Parliament.
Their reports must be debated in parliament and parliamentary select committees to review their work. The selection of these commissioners must be free from political control and must have greater public consultation including that with opposition leader in Parliament.

The essential task must be to ensure that these institutions have the public trust of the general population. Their credibility must be ensured through transparency, accountability and public engagement.
Media Freedom

There must be greater media freedom especially editorial freedom in traditional newspapers and electronic. This is fundamental to democratic freedoms and transparency. Investigative and responsible journalism must be order of the day. In this context media must be free from political party ownership and regulated by a media council.
Public Intellectuals

Academics must play a key role in public discussions especially in the defense of rational and open discussion especially public reasoning.  There should be no academic restrictions to their intellectual freedoms and in the interest of knowledge they should be enabled to exercise it and not face academic censorship in Institutions of Higher Learning.
Civil Society

Civil Society must play a dynamic role. In this context it is proposed that A Network for Inclusive Development and National Reconciliation be established with civil society leaders & public intellectuals to play a key role in monitoring and public policy advocacy.
Educational System
While Malaysia has recently release the Education Blueprint, there is a need to review it especially to enhance greater appreciation for ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the schools. The calls to review the place of English and the reintroduction of English type schools must be seriously considered. In addition the issues faced by under- achieving is most critical

Religious Institutions
There is an urgent need to include religious communities in the movement for reconciliation. Religious values can enhance inclusive development. In this context the authorities must appreciate all the religious traditions and also institute effective mechanism to resolve difference in a peaceful and respectful way.

Department of National Unity & Integration
This department is very important and must be the driver for national unity. However we feel the Federal government has not given adequate priority to this department. The grade of the DG must be on par with EPU and ICU as central agencies. In addition the Department must have a larger unit for policy, mediation and harmony work. It must build a stronger network and partnership with civil society and community groups.

The Department must play an active role in the formulation of A National Harmony Act replacing the Sedition Act. It must undertake a socio-economic audit by monitoring the level of harmony and address the root causes that continue to impact inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic relations in Malaysian society which is based on the quality of life and happiness index.
The Biro Tata Negara must be reviewed and made more inclusive under the framework of the 1 Malaysia concept. In this context its staffing, orientation, structure and operations must be reorganized. It could be placed under the Department of National Unity so as to ensure consistency for implementation with the 1Malaysia agenda in the spirit of Rukun Negara, Vision 2020 and the Federal constitution.

Neighbourhood Security & Community Policing
There is a need for the authorities to engage more with local communities on neighborhood security especially in urban areas. A review of the Rukun Tetangga, neighborhood program and the idea of gated communities are needed especially to enhance community relations between affluent neighborhoods and low income flats areas.

5.         There is a need to identify common issues and concerns affecting all the communities which can serve as a template for inclusive development
An outline of 15 common cutting concerns identified in the CPPS-ASLI book entitled Malaysian Issues & Concerns, Some Policy Responses (2013). These common concerns were derived though a series of conversations between Oct 8 and 11, 2012. These can serve as common denominators that build bridges. We need monitoring teams which will ensure

The 15 concerns are presented here under three major heading:-
Nation Building Concerns.

Ensuring equality of citizenship (holding article 8 and 153 in balance)

Enhancing democracy and human rights
Instilling a deeper sense of patriotism and respect for King & nation, thereby enhancing the role of Monarchy in public life

Increasing inter- religious understanding and ensuring a shift from tolerance to appreciation
Strengthening national unity and integration agenda with a deeper sense of celebrating diversity of cultures & languages of all Malaysian groups without diluting the importance of the national language

Socio-Economic Development Concerns
Addressing poverty and inequality with a focus on the bottom 40% and intra ethnic concerns

Empowering through education and skills training
Enlarging employment opportunities

Enlarging business and economic opportunities
Addressing crime and ensuring public safety and security

Governance Related Concerns
Recognizing youth potential and creating new measures for engagement

Tapping the full potential of civil society and grassroots organisations as partners in Development
Ensuring effective decentralization of local government

Fostering greater autonomy for States especially in Sabah and Sarawak
Ensuring effective governance and implementation