Home Civil Society Voices Home minister, don’t waste the deaths of the policemen in Ulu Tiram

Home minister, don’t waste the deaths of the policemen in Ulu Tiram

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Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) is deeply concerned over the seeming lack of public sympathy for the victims of Ulu Tiram. But we understand why.

On Friday, some members of civil society went to Putrajaya to handover a memo to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

In the memo, we called on the attorney general to prosecute a policeman, Corporal Cheah, who committed the crime of homicide on 15 September 2011.

Cheah shot the victim, Kathir Oli, at close range. The cause of death was a contact wound to the chest. While off duty, Cheah wielded and discharged his revolver, although he was not in any immediate danger and the victim was leaving the scene peacefully.

Hours later, the chief police officer of Perak made wild, unsubstantiated claims about the incident. He claimed the victim and his friends had attempted to rob a pub. He claimed parangs had been used. He claimed Corporal Cheah acted in self-defence.

For eight years, the public prosecutor, who is a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers, and the judiciary failed to conduct an inquest into the cause of Kathir Oli’s death – despite established law that an inquest is mandated by Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Kathir Oli’s family moved a High Court to order the coroner to investigate the case. There was a protracted inquest. The police provided no evidence of any parang. On oath, Corporal Cheah agreed the victim was unarmed and was leaving the scene peacefully when he was stopped by Cheah himself! Yet the coroner delivered an open verdict.

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The family appealed to the High Court. On 18 January 2024, the High Court concluded that the evidence pointed to homicide perpetrated by Corporal Cheah.

On 1 March, the family’s lawyers wrote to the director of prosecutions, asking for Corporal Cheah to be charged and prosecuted. On 6 April, the family’s lawyers served a letter of demand on the director of prosecutions. On both dates, similar letters were sent to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the police.

For 13 years, the police and the public prosecutor have failed the public. The police maligned the name of the victim and failed to investigate and prosecute their own. The public prosecutor either acquiesced or collaborated with the police.

There are many similarly heinous cases of deaths in police custody, both through shootings and in police cells. The failure of the government, Parliament and police to deal transparently and expeditiously with such deaths – raised even in the Dzaiddin police reform commission of 2004 – has severely tarnished the image of the police.

As we have pointed out previously, the government’s own special taskforce concluded that the police failed the nation in the case of the enforced disappearance of Amri Che Mat and of Raymond Koh. And the Attorney General’s Chambers continues to collaborate with the police!

Yet, there are good men and women who choose to join the police force. They put their lives on the line for the sake of the rest of us. Men like Constable Ahmad Azza Fahmi Azhar, 22, and Constable Muhamad Syafiq Ahmad Said, 24, who died in the line of duty at the Ulu Tiram Police Station recently. And another policeman who was injured.

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Caged honours the victims of Ulu Tiram. We appreciate them for their service to the nation. We express our condolences to their families. We vow to continue our quest to press for reform of the police so that those in police uniforms will be respected, as they should be.

We call on Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to do what every home minister since 2004 has failed to do. We call on him to devise and publish plans to restore public confidence in the police force. We call on him not to waste the deaths of our men in blue in Ulu Tiram. – Caged

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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