The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the 25 October beating and abduction of K. Selvach Santhiran by men in plainclothes claiming to be police personnel who did not properly identify themselves. Selvach was one of the key witnesses who testified against the police in the recently concluded R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest.
On the very day the verdict was delivered in the inquest, the police moved against Selvach and came to his home to arrest him. When Selvach’s children asked the police why their father was being dragged away, the police answered by beating Selvach in front of his own children. In a twisted perversion of conjugal love, the police tried to make Selvach’s wife S.Saraswathy kiss him before beating him up in front of her.
Selvach, who did his duty as an upright citizen by telling the truth at the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest, is now being held at an unknown location with no access to his family or lawyers despite several efforts to meet him or ascertain his whereabouts.
It is believed that he is being detained without trial under the draconian Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 or the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 that allow the police to detain a person for 60 days with no recourse to judicial safeguard and thereafter 2 years’ detention on the order of the Home
Whilst we understand that the police have an important and onerous job to prevent and combat crime, the police must understand that the wide powers of arrest and detention cannot be abused and used arbitrarily. As a professional police force, they should be guided by the law and legal processes in the country and not act with impunity and complete disregard for constitutional and judicial safeguards.
This is unfortunately symptomatic of the police’s inability to act professionally as a police force that can work within a modern criminal justice system and not resort to preventive measures that do not require any real police work and diligence. The police should instead strive to be a modern and professional force that conform to international standards and best practices and not regress to wrongful practices that have caused the public to lose so much confidence with the police force.
The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the general arrogance and lack of respect for the Federal Constitution, the rule of law and other legal procedures. This is not an isolated incident but a continuation of a long standing series of acts by the police that showed their contempt for the rights of the people that have resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality, torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, shooting, custodial violence and death.
The arrest and detention of Selvach is gravely aggravated by the fact that he was arrested on the same day – after the outrageous and scandalous “open verdict” delivered by Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin in the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest. Selvach was one of three persons who were in police custody with R.Gunasegaran and they have consistently identified Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal as having physically assaulted the deceased. They did so despite threats to their safety by the police and despite the inducement that their cooperation would secure their immediate release.
It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvach was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified accusations under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It goes without saying that whistleblowers should be protected by the administration of law rather than punished by law enforcement officers. This is a blatant abuse of police power and a serious criminal act that can be prosecuted under the Penal Code and may further be subjected to contempt of court proceedings. Further, these actions point to police retaliation and clearly intended to intimidate those who speak up against injustices or wrongdoings perpetrated by members of the police force.
Uncivilised and unjust laws like the DDA and EO have no place in a modern and democratic state like Malaysia. These oppressive laws and methods violate the constitutional and human rights of the people and are contemptuous of the judicial authority and the legal process. The Malaysian Bar and civil society have forcefully and repeatedly called for the repeal of all preventive detention laws and for such arbitrary arrests and re-arrests to cease.
The police cannot be permitted to continue to operate in an environment of impunity but as this tragic episode has explicitly illustrated, the police has just sent a strong message that they can act as they please with no regard to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct.
The Inspector General of Police must:
1. release Selvach immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;
2. take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Selvach;
3. support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
4. stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;
5. undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;
6. require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;
7. support human rights education and training programmes, with a view to changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.
Submitted by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) on behalf of the family of K. Selvach Santhiran
(Malaysiakini) A noisy protest in front of the national police headquarters staged by around 80 people forced the disclosure that a key witness to a police custody death had been detained for alleged drug offences.
A police spokesperson said that the narcotics department took the action taken against K Selvachandran under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures).
However, it took him close to an hour and a half of noisy protest at Bukit Aman to come up with the answer.
They had gathered this morning to demonstrate against Selva's sudden arrest on Monday night, just a few hours after the coroner's court gave an open verdict on the custodial death of R Gunasegaran.
The participants mobilised by several human rights and civil society NGOs such as Lawyers for Liberty and Suaram they also handed over a memorandum to the police.
However, there was a brief face-off when the police officer who had come out to receive the document earlier had no answers for the protestors, which included Selva's wife Saraswathy (below, right), on where he was being detained.
The protestors also refused to hand over the memorandum to him, until answers were forthcoming.
A little more than an hour later the police officer returned to deliver the news of Selva's whereabouts.
No trial for key witness, yet
Under the special preventive measures of the Dangerous Drugs Act, a suspect can be detained without trial for up to 60 days.
Upon its expiry, the home minister is empowered to endorse a two-year extension which can be renewed indefinitely and cannot be challenged in court.
"The minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said that he did not want to interfere but it will be his signature on the detention orders once the 60 days are up. He is responsible for Selva," said Latheefa Koya, (right in headscarf in photo) a representatives of Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).
The memorandum signed by LFL and Suaram, also demanded Selva's immediate release as well as a public apology from the police.
"The inspector-general of police also must take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Selva," said the memorandum.
A hat was also passed around, collecting RM1,140 from the protestors as financial aid to Saraswathy.
Representatives from Pakatan Rakyat included four MPs - Khalid Samad (Shah Alam), Dzulkifly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor), R Sivarasa (Subang) and Charles Santiago (Klang).
In the Monday night incident, Selva - who had testified at the inquest into Gunasegaran's death on July 16, 2009 in a police lock-up in the Sentul police station - was suddenlywhisked away by policemen, but not before assaulting him in front of his wife and children.
YAB. Dato Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Blok Utama Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, Fax:03-88883444
62502 Putrajaya E-Mail: HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com
Y.B. Sen. Dato’Raja Nong Chik bin Raja Zainal Abidin,
Minister of Federal Territories,
Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan,
Aras 4, Blok B2, Menara PJH, Presint 2, FaxNo.03-88891411
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, Email-:firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Phase III Little India Brickfields should be the development of Brickfields Railway Quarters into Indian petty traders open air flee market.
We refer to the newsreport in the Starmetro on 29/10/10 on Phase II of the development of Little India in Brickfields by the construction of a multi-storey carpark and the Pines Restaurant and the Lorong Chan Ah Tong hawker centre near Kortu Malai restaurant.
We propose Phase II by the demolishment of the Brickfields of the Railway quarters and the development of a petty traders flee market especially so that the Vivekananda Asraman, Vivekananda school and the Sangeetha Abervathi Sangam to be separated from the main Brickfields Little India town centre.
Hundreds of Indian petty traders denied licences and business opportunities can be placed in this Railway Quarters which is to be made into an open air flee market selling Indian food ware, accessories, clothes etc area and give real meaning to Little India in Brickfields.
This development should not become like how the development of the Batu Caves level crossing had separated the main Batu Caves temple from the river bed which has always been an integral part of the Batu Caves Heritage.
This will make Little India a tourist attraction. This will give real meaning to the Brickfields Little India and dispel that it is a mere row of flower shops.
Little India in Brickfields will then be closer to becoming the real Little India as in Serangoon Road in Singapore, East Ham and Southhall in London, Berlin, Germany and some other western Countries.
K. Selvam, K. Mohan, C.F Mani and Mano handed over the letter this morning to the Australian High Commission today to be forwarded to the Third Secretary Mr. Michael Helleman for his onward transmission to The Honorable Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia.
No.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur. Tel : 03-2282 5241
Re : Your official visit to Malaysia on 31st October and 1st November 2010
Dear Prime Minister Gillard,
We of the Human Rights Party Malaysia welcome you to our country for your first official visit as the Prime Minster of Australia. We are a political party representing the marginalized Indian community here in Malaysia whose main political thrust is to create a society based on the fundamental values of democracy – of equality of rights and of equality of opportunties and to reinstate Malaysian Indians into the national mainstream of development while eliminating policies of racism and religious supremacy.
Malaysia is essentially a multiethnic and multicultural society, in many ways like Australia. As matters stand today, Malaysia is struggling with the challenge of building a cohesive multicultural society in spite of 53 years of independence. I may even be presumptuous, calling Malaysia multicultural for many in the political leadership may challenge this premise. But this reality cannot be ignored – we are a multicultural society. But one which is in the process of finding itself . The challenges are of creating robust social cohesion in the face of deep diversity. One unfortunate consequence of this is the signifcant violation of human rights of the minorities of the country, specifically of the Indians, A direct result of this gross violation is the marginalization of the indian poor in the country.. It is our party’s objective to eliminate this problem of marginalization at its root. And it is in this regard we write this letter to you.
Autsralia seems to have learnt some lessons and has gone down a path that has avoided the divisions that is pulling the multiethnic community apart here in Malaysia. Autsralia has developed some policies that has helped establish cohesiveness of the communities based on shared fundamental values while allowing for cultural diversity. The policy framework that enables you to capture multicultural claims as demands for more inclusion, rather than as tendencies for the fragmentation of the polity into a set of mutually antipathetic communities, surely is relevant and valuable to Malaysia.
At the risk of being presumptuous, I request you, during your visit to Malaysia, to raise the issues of violation of the rights of the marginalized minority Indians and relate it to the broader issue of managing a multiethnic and multicultural country to your counterpart, Dato Seri Najib Abdul Razak, our Prime Minister, and to offer suggestions of how it may be dealt with based on the experience of Australia. We understand however that the request we make is an unsual one. Australia has shown leadership on many issue relating to human rights both in the Australasian region as well as in the Asean region in the past and this is just such an opportunity. This will be a necessary contribution to a very high potential neighbour. Having robust neighbours contributes to stability, to growing opportunities and prosperity for all in the community.
A more specific request we would like to make to you is that a small delegation from our party would like to meet with you during your visit to Malaysia. We would like to hand you a proposal seeking your assistance in setting up a scholarship program for high performing but disadvantaged Indian students in Malaysia who have been denied opportunties here into local Universities because of the discriminatory admission policies of the Government of Malaysia.to attend universities in Australia. We will appreciate it if you could grant us this appointment with your good self. This will be a novel initiative in extending such programs beyond Government to Gevernment arrangements, to peoples in need in neighbouring countries directly.We can be contacted through your Kuala Lumpur embassy for the scheduling of the meeting.
Once again we welcome you to Malaysia and we thank you for the opportunity to be able to write to you, and we look forward to your favourable response.
The rally's estimated to be 100 000 people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning.At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released. One day before the rally, police arrested three HINDRAF lawyers, P. Uthayakumar, P. Waytha Moorthy and V. Ganabatirau for sedition charges. Uthayakumar and Ganabatirau posted bail of 800 Malaysian ringgits each, but Waytha Moorthy refused bail as a sign of protest.