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Foo Sze Kuan case – major setback to Pak Lah’s anti-corruption campaign in the Police Force
by Lim Kit Siang
This was followed by the campaign among policeman to wear button badges with the words Saya anti-rasuah (I’m against graft), which runs the risk of being dismissed as a meaningless gimmick or even a joke by the public if there is no political will and highest-level support to wipe out corruption in the police.
In fact, many are asking whether the police anti-corruption button-wearing exercise is the only outcome after more than six months of the police study of the Police Royal Commission Report recommending an agenda of “zero tolerance for corruption” for the police!
As the Police Royal Commission Report pointed out, “ACA’s report on corruption in government agencies between 1999 and 2003 found PDRM as the most corrupt. It had more than triple the number of corruption cases during the period compared with the next most corrupt government agency, the Town Councils.” (p.117)
Even more important than
individual cases of corruption is the problem of systemic corruption in the
police force. Ten of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Commission are
about eradicating police corruption, such as:
It is both shocking and outrageous that after more than six months of police study of the Police Royal Commission Report, the only public measure is the button-wearing campaign – which is a meaningless exercise unless it is one small step of a larger and more comprehensive anti-corruption strategy for the police force.
At present, the police button-wearing exercise appears to be a stand-alone initiative, and if so, it is condemned to end up as a dismal failure. Is the Police able to table a report in Parliament before the debate on its 2006 budget estimates at the end of the month setting out its anti-corruption programme as a result of the Police Royal Commission Report?
It is sad that before the police has taken any substantive measure to inspire public confidence about its seriousness to combat corruption in the police ranks, there is already a major setback of public support and confidence in the battle against police corruption.
This is the outrageous case of a policeman instituting legal proceedings against a 17-year-old Seremban salesgirl, Foo Sze Kuan, who lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency in June last year alleging that she was harassed by a policeman and had to pay a bribe of RM300 at a roadblock for motor-cyclists.
The ACA charged the policeman in March this year but the accused was acquitted on technical grounds on 11th October 2005.
Foo now finds herself a target of further harassment and victimisation as the acquitted policeman had instituted legal proceedings against her and is demanding damages.
Who would dare to lodge reports with the ACA against the police or any offending government servant, if it is going to end up with the complainant being hauled to court in interminable legal proceedings and required to pay hefty damages?
If the accused wants to institute any legal proceedings, it should file action against the ACA as it is the anti-corruption agency which must be held responsible for the investigation resulting in prosecution, or even the Attorney-General whose Chambers decided on the prosecution.
There should be a clear-cut rule that no legal proceedings should be instituted against any bona fide complainant against public officers for corruption, or public support and co-operation in the fight against corruption will simply dry up for fear of personal repercussions.
The Foo Sze Kuan case is major setback to Pak Lah’s anti-corruption campaign in the Police Force and a test-case as to whether the Prime Minister is prepared to get the whole anti-corruption campaign back on track before it fizzles out into mere rhetorics.
For years the government has been talking about enacting a Whistle-Blowers Protection law to give protection to those who give information about corruption in the public service, like in this case Foo Sze Kuan, but nothing has come out of the proposal so far , raising questions about the government’s seriousness and sincerity in eradicating corruption.
All NGOs, organizations and individuals, including the Institute Integrity Malaysia, serious and concerned about the absence of any campaign or momentum to fight corruption in the public service, whether police or otherwise, should give support to Foo Sze Kuan , so that her victimization would not strike fear into all future informants, undermining and negating all anti-corruption campaigns in future.
The Parliamentary Human Rights Caucus takes a serious view of the gross violation of Foo Sze Kuan’s human rights and is prepared to hold a special meeting on the matter.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman