Saturday, December 11, 2010

Police Abuse of Power - Government Pays

Members of the public may always have a wrong perception that government officers like customs, police and JPJ have wide and unlimited power of arrest, search and detention against citizens. Many of these arrest, search and detention were done in the pretext the person stopped and detained were suspected to have committed a criminal offence. The person search most of the time also did not know how to protect their right and most of the time obliged to be detained by the police without seeking legal help.

Recently, in Lundu District a group of police officers arrested and detained a Mr. Liew who was said to have with him smuggled beers inside a motor van. Mr. Liew at that time in actual fact was lifting his beers in broad daylight in Lundu Town for sale to his customers and out of a sudden his goods together with his motor van were seized by Lundu police. Business jealousies could have landed Mr. Liew into trouble. Mr. Liew pleaded with the police officers that he committed no wrong and showed to them document to prove that all his goods were proper. When asked of the offence, the police officers just told him to follow him to the Lundu Police Station and of which he was locked inside a lock-up until the next day. No counsel was allowed to be engaged and neither was Mr. Liew brought to see a magistrate. However, Mr. Liew later on was told that he smuggled the beers into the state without paying customs tax on them! Mr. Liew was shock!

The seized beers were sent to the Customs Department, who upon inspection later on returned all the beers almost immediately upon inspection to Mr. Liew or his agents as the beers were all proper as the goods did not contravene any customs law.

Dissatisfied with the action of the police, Mr. Liew came to see me for advice and then sued the police. The government had to compensate the loss and damage caused. The government has to pay the price caused by the action of these police officers.

Members of the public have to be reminded that all government enforcement officers are not above the law and they could not be caught abusing the law. Government officers are also to be reminded that they should do their work in accordance with the law, or else, they could also be dragged to court.

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