Media statement by Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP Kasthuri Patto on Tuesday 19 January 2021:
Apart from an in-depth investigation into the unwarranted detention and rape of a child in police custody, a nationwide audit must be carried out on the functionality of CCTVs in all police stations, documented and revealed to the Government and the public in a week.
I welcome the charged reaction by the Inspector General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador to have all those responsible for the lock-up rage to be charged in court and there will be no compromise on it. The first step in handling a rape case of this magnitude is a resolute admission and acknowledgment that a rape did indeed happen within the walls of the police lock-up and that the perpetrators be charged in court, as advocated by DAP Senator Alan Ling who had accompanied the minor and her father to lodge a police report on the incident.
However, Sarawak Police Commissioner Aidi Ismail dropped a bomb when he stated that the closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) in the Miri Central Police Station did not have a recording function and can only be monitored by the personnel on duty.
This brow raising statement is a revelation of the state of affairs of our police stations and its hardware infrastructure such as functioning CCTVs with sound that have been neglected over time due to a lack of honour, dignity, transparency, integrity and political will. While it is undeniable that the welfare of officers must also be upheld in the highest priority, what happened to that 16-year-old girl under the watch of police officers who allowed this crime to take place and did nothing to prevent it simply shows that we have a bigger problem on our hands on dishonest, crooked, shady officers. A corrupted software. A travesty – the highest level of dishonesty, devoid of integrity, responsibility and duty and sadly, paid by a 16-year-old girl traumatized for life being a victim of rape in a police station.
What if something worse had happened to the girl and her story, uncounted for, unheard and unseen never made it to the news? Today it was a child from Miri, tomorrow it could be someone you know.
Social media was abuzz with scorning questions on what good is a CCTV if it does not have a record, playback and storing function in addition to audio as well? I hope PDRM has an answer for this.
10 years ago, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun who served in SUHAKAM, in an interview with Martin Vengadesan stated, ” Many times, during my visits to lock-ups after a suspicious death, the official explanations do not tally. You’d think it should be easy enough to find evidence indicating the cause of death, but often, crucial evidence is not forthcoming. For example, if there is supposed to be a camera at the police station where a death had occurred, it would either be missing or not working!” Sipaun says.
Tan Sri Simon’s statement does not surprise anyone anymore given the track record of deaths in custody and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it including other forms of violations like the rape of a child.
With a total of more than RM16 billion for the Ministry of Home Affairs in the 2021 national budget and only RM8 million allocation for PDRM police stations and “pondok polis”, the words ‘camera’ or ‘CCTV’ does not appear anywhere in the budget at all. This is truly disheartening how all police lock-ups will be equipped with functioning CCTVs in them to protect the police force from baseless allegations and to uphold the honour and dignity of our men and women in blue but also to reveal dark deeds by dark hands including abuses within the lock up, such as torture, rape and death.
On September 20 2019, under Pakatan Harapan, RM73 million was announced by the then Law Minister, the late Datuk Seri Liew Vui Keong for all police lock-ups nationwide to be equipped with CCTVs for accountability and integrity. What is the status of the funds allocated and had they been used to purchase or to upgrade CCTVs for any police stations in the country?
There must be a nationwide audit into the conditions of CCTVs in all police stations and a thorough report be documented and revealed to the Government and to the public in a week’s time to improve the image of the police force in the eyes of the rakyat.
Data on the functionality of these CCTVs and the reaction by the Government to furnish upgraded, modern hardware to the men and women in blue may just as well act as a preventive measure against rape, violations, torture and deaths in police custody in the near future.
We must remind and pressure this Government to do what is right – especially in providing justice to a 16-year-old girl raped in a police lock-up.
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary for Wanita DAP