are bad, not all police are cruel’. What is it about? It’s about state-sanction. The state sanctions what is happening: deaths in custody, abuses by the police... We have had inquests conducted into deaths in custody but nothing is done, nobody is prosecuted. The A-G does not prosecute.
NORMAL, WHAT Would you all always feel this righteous about the issues of justice or do you think that there’s a point where you decide to accept it, tacitly or unconsciously... (together, resolutely, shaking heads, aghast) Nooo... Fadiah: We get frustrated at times, because it’s so sad, what is happening, sometimes before your own eyes. Puspawati: It’s a long struggle lah. Fadiah: We have to keep on going if there is to be anything good at the end of it all. Ravinder: When we (Ravinder and Suara Keadilan’s Law Teck Hao) got to Taman Tun (Dr Ismail police) station at three to four in the morning, and we were put inside the lock-up, it was still okay lah [even though] I was a little bit numb from what had happened. By 9am, you start wondering, why am I not being brought before a magistrate? Why are there no lawyers outside, who were there when we held in Brickfields? Then it starts to dawn on you that no-one knows where you are. At about 11, and I remembered it was a Friday which means you’re looking at a longer lunch hour for cops, you wonder, When are they going to produce me before a magistrate? If they do a remand hearing in the lock-up, would anyone know? How are they going to bail me out? Then you really get annoyed and think, What on earth have I done to be here? Nothing. What are they so afraid of that they would arrest five young lawyers who were there [as part of the legal process]? At that point, yeah, once you have that feeling – I’m sure all of us feel the same way – what have I done to deserve this? It’s nearly impossible for that feeling to die down.
in the [interrogation] room so that people can see what is happening in there. And they were making fun of the questions. They were not serious in actually reforming the system. I remember the last thing he said to us: ‘Lawyer ini tahu nak lawan sahaja. Ingat, kami juga nak buat kerja.’ I just want to say that we (the police and the lawyers) are both doing our jobs. You want to do your job, I want to do my job. The rules are there for the benefit of everybody [but] there is a mentality of, ‘this is ridiculous. I want to do it my way.’ There seems to be an authoritarian mentality. Exactly. In fact they have the support of the people above. So I think that it’s hard to say there’ll be improvement. Then it will be very difficult to change the nature of the relationship and reform the police. The system will do that. I think we can never change something so deeply rooted. But if there is a system, it’s okay if you don’t like me and I don’t like you; we can actually monitor what you and I do. I don’t ask you to like me. I’m asking for fairness and professionalism, so that the public benefits, not my group, or your group. We’re all just doing our part, that’s all.
Has anyone had a good experience with the police? Fadiah: A lot! (cites an example from the PPSMI demonstrations) Now suddenly, things are a bit different because they are now heavily influenced by political changes since the last general election. It’s about the projection of power and domination, because I think they realise that people are losing more confidence than ever in the political impartiality of the police. What happened to us is the result of what is happening in Perak, and the arrest of Wong Chin Huat. Before this, we would have been seen as officers of the court coming to the police station to represent any arrested persons without counsel. Ravinder: Even during the Hindraf trials, Syuhaini Safwan: It’s very sad that they the relationship was not so bad. After the (the police) consider us as their enemy when arrests at Batu Caves, we continued doing we’re supposed to work together to ensure remand hearings until two in the morning that justice is done. with the police. Now, it’s so different. I remember when I was in my last year Fadiah: Now, they arrest you even if of studies; for my Criminal Procedure they have no grounds to charge you for Code, we were supposed to interview the an offence, just to detain you. If we have OCPD of Dang Wangi, I think his name was violated the law, charge us in court. I see it Zulkarnain. There was a big, big table, all the as an act of intimidation. officers were there. Murnie: It’s a clear misuse of power. What And then we we asked him a few amounts to a ‘reasonable belief’ that justifies questions. At that time, the [Dzaiddin denying someone access to legal aid counsel? Commission was enquiring into the need for We weren’t told, in our case maybe because the IPCMC]. So we asked a few questions, they couldn’t come up with an answer. But such as on whether there is a need for CCTV again, there’s been no action taken against
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Education: Sekolah Menengah Tg Panglima Perang Tg Muhammad, Kuantan, Pahang, International Islamic University Malaysia (2004-2007), JPA scholar, champion mooter (like Fadiah). Both my parents were lecturers before my mother retired as a school principal and my father joined the Ministry of Education. I was brought up in a sheltered environment. I attended different schools along the way, including religious school, when I was in Forms 1 and 2. My interest in law and issues of justice system and human rights started during the Reformasi period in 1998, when I was still in secondary school. So after SPM, I determined for myself to read law and to become a lawyer. I’m in my first year of practice. I was attached to Tenaganita for the Legal Aid programme which was an eye opener about where our country stands in issues relating to migrants, refugees and human rights, and how our [legal] system works. To my surprise, I went for the ‘Advanced Training’ conducted by the Legal Aid Centre and became part of the legal aid team.
Education: Sekolah Sri Inai, Methodist College, University of Wales, Aberystwyth); BVC, Bar (University of the West Of England, Bristol, UWE), Certificate of Practice in General Insurance (I was 16 when I qualified). Chairman, Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre. Provenance: I come from a through and through Punjabi family, an only grandson. To my paternal grandfather that was very important. My dad works as a credit recovery agent (own business) and my mother is a property negotiator. My maternal grandfather was born in Malaysia, but his wife came from India. He was a money lender, taxi driver and a man who did virtually anything to keep his family afloat; a very strict man. He had 10 children. He migrated to Canada in the early 1980s with the children who were not married. I was fortunate to have known him. My paternal grandfather was from Ipoh, and my paternal grandmother, from Kuching. I’ve never been there and thus don’t really know much about her hometown. Key experiences: After Form 5 I worked with my dad doing debt collection for banks and finance companies. There was NO beating or swearing at anyone. After eight months, I enrolled with Methodist College in Brickfields. I insisted to go to a proper ‘red brick’ university in my final year as it was my one and only chance in England/UK. I chose to go to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (now as Aberystwyth University). The same current Inspector-General of Police, Home Minister and President of the Malaysian Bar all attended the same uni. How ironic?
Published on Jul 28, 2009