Thursday, July 17, 2008


The Police Force is a very powerful arm of the Executive in enforcing law and order, but, their powers are not unlimited. Members of the police force could only exercise their powers in accordance with the law and could not take any advantage of the ignorance of the public of their rights when enforcing law and order. Police officers were taught to be tough and polite, but, most often, when under pressure many of them abused the powers in their hands. Many retired became respected men, but, there are those who were cursed by the public when they retired. An organization with such a size of more than 100,000 personnel definitely could not run from some bad apples within the organization.

Recent abuses by the police included on 29 January, 2006 the shaving of the heads of 11 senior citizens who were alleged to have played a game of mahjong during Chinese New Year. While detained in the lock-up they were stripped to underwear only. There were also instances where women were humiliated and some stripped naked. There was a case where a woman when asked to perform “squats” in a police station was captured in a hand phone camera which led to a Royal Commission of Inquiry in December, 2005. There was also an allegation by a 14-year old boy, Badrul Syahwal Syahryul, of been beaten up for refusing to admit an alleged theft of a bicycle.
Abuses by the police include the detention of motor vehicles. Although the law permits the detention of motor vehicles not exceeding 48 hours unless regularized under the relevant laws, most often than not, motor vehicles were also detained more than necessary by police officers. Threats and reminders by lawyers and car owners to police officers of civil suits also fell on deaf ears.

There were also cases where police officers took the short-cut way for help of the public to assist police investigation by way of phone calls or by relaying the requests through the media, yet, with threat of arrests if failing to appear in police station as required. The police have no power to issue such an order through the phone or the press and by doing so, this definitely invite disobedience and abhorrence by the public against such order. The police should know that this should not be necessary as it creates an environment of fear disrespect against the police. The police should by right, exercise their power by issuing the attendance notice under section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code if they require the public to attend at the police station to assist police investigation. Still the best way is to visit the witnesses or potential suspects for their statements recorded.

To the suspects, when under arrests, I have to remind you that you have a right of silence because under the law, anything you say may be given in evidence in court. Likewise, if police officers want to record your statements in which you think your statement may incriminate you, you should refrain from giving the statement. When under detention, no police officers should under Rule 20 of the Lock-Up Rules 1953 remove you out of the lock-up from the hours of sunset to dawn! It is unlawful to do so and this will be good ground for assault and damages against the police officer concerned. It is better to engage a lawyer to protect your right.

Before you are put into the lock-up, make sure that some one you could trust take back your personal property and also be observant as to what were written by the lock-up officers inside the Register Book the personal belongings seized from you. For gold ornaments, lock-up officers may just write “yellow metal” in the Register Book and when you are released, if you find a difference, you may not be able to dispute it. If it was gold, you need to insist that it should be properly described in the Register Book before you put your signatures on it. This also goes to other items such as hand phones. There would not be any point to complain later even though some good officers may help you, they would not be able to do so because of your mistake.

When charged in court, insist that a copy of the charge sheet be extended to you. Make sure that your request be recorded by the magistrate. This will help to protect your interest. This is because being the accused person you have a right to know the charge against you. It is a fundamental right because no person could stand trial without knowing the charge well. To understand the charge is another thing, but, to know the charge properly is what we need to insist. With the charge sheet in hand, you may wish to consult a lawyer and if the charge is defective, your lawyer can know what to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear YB
I've read the article and I found that the informations are very useful especially for those like me who're 'blind' about the law and my right.