I read with interest Brendan Pereira’s comment in this morning’s issue of the NST. Can the Press be blamed for all the speculation over the nationality of the woman in the video clip? In any event, as Brendan Pereira correctly asserts, does the nationality of the woman matters? What matters here is the human right to dignity of an individual was violated and we now hear that this custodial practice has been going on for sometime. What was the difficulty for the office of the Inspector General of Police to carry out the necessary inquiry quickly and disclosing the truth? The young woman was in police custody without access to the outside world. The burden was therefore on the police to disclose what exactly happened during custody. That we required a Commission of Inquiry for such identification is just beyond belief!
This saga once again shows how important it is for Malaysians to have a freedom of information and whistleblowers protection legislation and the Official Secrets Act amended. With such legislation in place not only the public and the media will know how they could extract greater transparency from public administration but more importantly it will keep those in public administration on their toes knowing fully well they will be made, if necessary, compelled to account to the people for any misgivings within. So long as the Government continues to resist such legislation public mistrust in the administration will continue. Malaysians deserve a right to know. Our politicians in Parliament should do some soul searching. Setting up commissions of inquiry every time such abuses surface is just not the way.
Dato Param Cumaraswamy
Transparency International – Malaysia