Tuesday, June 11, 2013

IPCMC and EAIC: More Than Just Names

In a statement related to a recent discussion Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Paul Low held with the MIC, several NGOs and with the cabinet on the matter, he said the 'IPCMC' and 'EAIC "are only names".

Therefore he said that a "revamped" and "beefed up" Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) is a better option than starting a fresh commission like the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Datuk Paul Low is sorely mistaken that the difference between EAIC and IPCMC is just in the name.  The difference between the two is clearly in their intent, with the former set up as a toothless tiger meant specifically as a cosmetic job to placate the public’s demand for an IPCMC, while pandering to strident objections of the police force.  An IPCMC as recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Royal Malaysian Police in 2005 was clearly an agency to check, discipline and inculcate greater professionalism in the police force.

Hence the former is specifically designed to fail the objectives of the latter. This has been proven over the past 3 years after the EAIC has been set up, where they receive only a budget of RM7 million a year.  Today, it has only 1 investigating officer as part of a 23-man staff which include its clerks and drivers.

Even former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad had questioned the effectiveness of the EAIC, which since its formation in September 2011 and until the end of 2012, had only recommended one disciplinary action and two warnings to civil servants.  In that sole case of disciplinary action, a complaint had been lodged against a police officer mid-last year for closing a case after three days.

Even in this relatively minor case of indiscipline, the EAIC CEO Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar admitted that she doesn’t know if the recommended disciplinary action of a demotion has actually been carried out by the Police.

The fact that the Government isn’t serious, with only 1 investigating officer today to “look after” 19 government agencies- the police force, the Immigration Department, the Customs Department, the Rela Corps, the National Anti-Drug Agency, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the Department of Environment, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the National Registration Department (NRD), the Department of Civil Aviation, the Road Transport Department (RTD), the Department of Industrial Relations, the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the Manpower Department, the Health Ministry (Enforcement), the Tourism Ministry (Enforcement and Licensing units), the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry (Enforcement) and the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (Enforcement) – is proof of the intent for the entire exercise to fail.

Datuk Paul Low has added that "the cabinet more or less concluded that an extensive revamp and enlargement of the powers of the existing EAIC would be a better option than setting up a new IPCMC from scratch, as the latter would involve too much time to get up and running."  He said the three-year-old EAIC had taken two years to settle in due to "teething problems".

The abject failure of the EAIC is not due to “teething problems”.  It was because the BN Government has designed for it to fail.

In reality, what it means is that Datuk Paul Low has become just a mere spokesman to convey decisions made by the Cabinet.  It appears that he has lost all convictions in all the recommendations he has made to the Government while he as the President of Transparency International, where he was personally insistent that
“The implementation of the watereddown Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to a Special Complaints Commission (SCC) indicates the inability of the government to regulate gatekeepers.  The IPCMC, which was the recommendation of the 2005 Royal Commission, was diluted after open revolt from the top brass of the Royal Malaysian Police.”
It is disappointing that since appointed the Transparency Minister, Datuk Paul Low has now reversed his earlier position to argue that the Special Complaints Commission in the form of the EAIC is now sufficient to regulate the enforcement authorities, particularly the Police force.

Now with the latest death of a 33 year old Japanese citizen in police custody yesterday, allegedly by hanging himself, it is the 4th death in police custody in 14 days, or the 9th in 2013.  How many more deaths will it take for the Cabinet to be convinced that an effective check and balance system is desperately required to ensure and regulate the professionalism of the police, as well as to bring the all the rogues in the force to book.

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