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Rule of law being compromised

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Unless we take notice of the spreading epidemic of lawlessness, rising vigilante crime, mob mentality and arbitrary punishment that comes in the wake of the undermining of the rule of law, Malaysia is in danger of becoming a police state, warns Angeline Loh.

The 23 December 2008 police torture of car park attendant, B Prabakar during interrogation at the Brickfields police district headquarters reported by Malaysiakini on 31 December 2008, is an incident all citizens should be warned of.

B Prabakar was taken in for interrogation and remanded for five days. He was asked to identify certain photographs by the police.  For his failure to answer their questions, his body was scalded with boiling water, “ repeatedly beaten, kicked and stepped-on by at least 10 police personnel” apart from being verbally abused and threatened with death. (Malaysiakini, 31 Dec. 2008)

Moreover, the police took B Prabakar to a private clinic to treat his injuries where a doctor treating him only communicated verbally with the police officer accompanying him. According to Prabakar, the doctor did not even ask his name while giving him treatment. The police also withheld the medicine dispensed to him by the doctor. (Malaysiakini video)

Despite S Manikavasagam, MP supporting his case and submitting a memorandum to IGP Musa Hassan, to be followed by a copy to Suhakam, there are no guarantees that any individual member of the general public will not at any time be faced with similar police brutality that may not be accounted for by the police or justified with concrete evidence.

A similar instance is seen in Francis Udayappan’s death allegedly by drowning in the Klang River while escaping custody from the same police station. G Sara Lily, Francis Udayappan’s mother still holds the police responsible for her son’s death and that the coroner’s decision that the police were not in any way responsible, should be overturned by the High Court. (Malaysiakini 20/6/08)

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As incidents of police brutality, unjust and unlawful arrest and detention increase in number with the cruel and inhuman ISA more flagrantly wielded by the Federal Government to suppress legitimate freedom of expression and assembly, the personal security of Malaysians as well as others in this country is compromised.   

The continuance of this situation of blatant and open human rights abuse could ultimately turn into chaos and result in a complete breakdown of the rule of law and society in this country. In an intensifying global economic downturn, the erosion of the rule of law, denial and violations of human rights, and suppression of democracy work to further destabilise already fragile social, economic and political structures in Malaysia.

Not only has the Federal Government ‘thumbed its nose’ at the international community, tarnishing Malaysia’s image and bringing down the nation’s prestige globally, it apparently persists in ignoring the deepening urgency to deal with fundamental economic and human rights issues in the country. If nothing is done and neither sense nor reason prevails the descent into the pit of totalitarian tyranny could result. Malaysia may become like Myanmar, making us a contributor to political instability in Asean and Southeast Asia.

The region has been persistently plagued by such instability, yet Asean governments have been tardily slow in making democracy, justice and peace a priority. The out-dated principle of ‘non-interference’ continues to be common political currency amongst Asean governments. (Forum-Asia).

Unless we take notice of the spreading epidemic of lawlessness, rising vigilante crime, mob mentality and arbitrary punishment that comes in the wake of the erosion of the rule of law and the consequent non-protection of human life and dignity, Malaysia is in danger of becoming a police state where brutality, arbitrary punishment and violation of the person will be permitted, rationalised and justified.

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We urge Malaysian politicians of every political complexion, the judiciary, and the government of the day to seriously consider the current crisis faced by the people in this country, without deflecting or evading the issues using external comparisons of situations in other countries which are handled differently by other governments in dissimilar political and social environments.

What is needed is concerted political will to take positive, definite and decisive action to stop corruption, lawlessness, denial of and violations of human rights. We need to facilitate the reinstitution of the rule of law, justice and democracy.

Malaysia should become a protector and promoter of peace in the region in keeping with its treaty obligations under the UN Charter and other international treaties it has ratified and become party to, in keeping with the Federal Government’s frequent boast that Malaysia is a model multi-ethnic and pluralist society. This boast should be made a reality for the people of Malaysia as well as serve as a shining example for international relations in the region and amongst the wider family of nations.

This article was written before the death of A Kugan. 

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