Sosilawati’s case: Don’t be so quick to praise the police

17 September 2010

Lawyers for Liberty is troubled that many politicians and others have been too quick to praise the police for solving the gruesome murder of Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three other associates. What this incident has shown – far from an effective, competent and professional police force that Malaysia deserves – is that the police only acted decisively when the case involved the disappearance of a prominent and wealthy “Datuk” while ignoring or dragging its feet over numerous other disappearance/murder and commercial crime cases. It has further been reported that up to 20 people could have been murdered by the same perpetrators.

How can these suspected perpetrators including two infamous disbarred lawyers have been allowed to commit these crimes for so long with so much impunity without any police action? Questions have rightly been raised by the press that perhaps, the police may have been “bought”.

Is the police lacking resources or has it simply been too busy investigating and harassing opposition politicians and dissidents over frivolous issues to take real crimes seriously? Are we therefore surprised that public confidence of the police remains extremely low and the view that the police is corrupt and acts as the protector of the rich and powerful remains firmly intact?

Lawyers for Liberty welcomes the new IGP’s promise that the police will be taking immediate action on all missing persons reports and that those caught slacking will be severely reprimanded unlike the Selangor CPO’s defensive posturing when questioned on these issues. It is unbecoming of the CPO to brush off these legitimate questions when possible police negligence or corruption has led to the perpetration of more crimes and we demand that an inquiry be held on these failures.

This recalls the case of Norizan Salleh who was needlessly shot five times by the police. When concerns were raised by the victim and others, the police and the Home Minister totally dismissed the complaint and affirmed that the police had acted correctly. Had her case been taken seriously, 15-year-old Aminulrasyid would not have died in a hail of bullets under similar circumstances.

This cynical attitude of the police, acting as they pleased without regard for the law and standard operating procedures, could not have thrived had senior police officers and the Home Minister not been quick to constantly protect the police at all cost and dismissing complaints when there is evidence of trigger happy shooting, brutality and fabrication of evidence.

Similarly in the current case, Sosilawati and her associates would not have been killed had the police investigated all the prior missing persons and the commercial crime cases connected to the suspects.

We further call on the Home Minister to take immediate steps to redress the failing professionalism and competence of the police force – among the most imperative, the setting up of the Independent  Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as recommended by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police in 2004 – and to take every genuine criminal case seriously and not only act when prominent and wealthy Datuks are affected.

Released by N. Surendran

Lawyers for Liberty