4th June 2021
RCI only way forward after yet another death in police custody
Another piece of sad news has emerged. Lorry driver Umar Faruq Abdullah, an ethnic Indian man, has died at the South Klang district police headquarters (IPD).
This is the third case of custodial death reported in 15 days.
His death follows the death of security guard S Sivabalan, who died at the Gombak police station on May 20. A week later, Surendran Shanker died after being held at the Simpang Renggam prison in Johor. Let us not forget the tragic death of cow milk trader A. Ganapathy, who died while in hospital on April 18.
There were many before them that are yet to be accounted for. There are at least 29.4 million Malaysian citizens. Of this population only 6.9 percent are Indian heritage, according to Malaysian Department of Statistics and yet the deaths among Indians in prison custody seems to be higher relative to other communities in terms of percentage of population.
Between 2010 to 2017, there were at least 1600 deaths in Malaysian prisons. And yet according to Suara rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) nearly 55% of police custodial deaths are recorded to be Indian victims.
When will this stop? Why are all these men of Indian ethnicity? Can the Perikatan Government give us any answers?
These tragic deaths are happening too often and I propose that the IGP and police come out and explain what is going on.
I had urged the Police to take up the pledge of “Zero Death” in custody, yet these deaths are still emerging, under this new IGP. The Rakyat trust and confidence in the police force will erode unless action is taken to stop custodial deaths.
When will the Malaysian Cabinet act proactively to stem out custodial deaths? The PM should not shy away from a pertinent Human Rights issue.
The time has come for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be set up to investigate all these custodial deaths. The issue is systemic and requires an external impartial investigation.
We could take heed from the US to address institutional racism especially in relation to George Floyds death. An independent commission announced its findings on April 27 with the publication of a detailed report that alleges the existence of systemic racism inherent in police violence against Black Americans, which they argue constitutes crimes against humanity.
Although the commission has no enforcement authority, it made specific referrals to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government and the U.S. Congress, among others.
In the U.S., the referrals included a call for reparations, action to review and retool existing law enforcement policies, and passage of legislation to hold law enforcement officers accountable when Black individuals die as a result of their encounters with police
Too much time has passed on. It’s time for action to root out ethnic discrimination and restore civil rights in the country. Justice delayed is justice denied.
M Kula Segaran
MP for Ipoh Barat
DAP National Vice Chairman