19th January 2021
Sarawak police commissioner Aidi Ismail was probably red-faced when he had to admit that “a CCTV camera is installed in the lock-up, but it does not have recording function and it can only be monitored by personnel on duty” after a 16-year-old girl was raped by another detainee placed in the same cell at the Miri police station lock-up.
How often this has happened in the past is anyone’s guess! I would not want to make any assumptions, but I am glad that the teenager had the guts to stand up for her rights.
Police report lodged by the victim
But the paramount question is what is the point of a CCTV if you cannot record anything? What is the point of carrying a gun if it is not loaded? There is no reason why a CCTV was installed yet was unable to record the incident.
Another two questions have to be asked: How safe is the criminal evidence kept in our police stations when the police cannot even keep a vital CCTV camera installed in the lock-up cell in working condition? Can evidence be easily destroyed or tampered with by insects, humidity, or simply by human error?
Or a more relevant question: Did anyone try to hide away or erase the evidence? Was there any form of corruption involved?
A detailed explanation on why the CCTV could not record anything must be announced in line with the policy of good governance and greater transparency in order to convince the public that there is no cover up.
The government must also take the necessary legal action with regards to the company that was awarded the contract to supply and maintain the CCTV involved in the rape case.
The Home Minister must immediately order a thorough audit of the number of ‘non-recording’ CCTVs installed in all detention facilities and make the report public. This is important to prevent more rapes and mysterious deaths in detention like the case of Teoh Beng Hock.
It is also time for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to set up the Independent Police Complaints & Misconduct Commission. Only an independent commission would be able to help bring back public confidence in the police, especially when there are many cases of police abuse reported in the media these days.
Lim Lip Eng
MP for Kepong