The reasons given by the Federal CID Chief, Bakri Zinin, as to why Anwar was arrested at his house one hour before the earlier agreed time of 2.00pm to show up at the police headquarters (IPK) is incredible. Bakri was reported in the media to have said that the police had “reason to believe” Anwar was not going to show up at the IPK because he was supposed to get to the headquarters immediately after giving his statement at the ACA in Putra Jaya but Anwar had changed his route and was heading to his house in Bukit Segambut.
The agreement with Bakri was for Anwar to show up at the headquarters at 2.00pm. There was however no agreement that Anwar would go to the IPK immediately after leaving ACA in Putra Jaya. Neither was there any agreement that he should take a particular route from Putra Jaya to IPK.
I accompanied Anwar together with two other lawyers to Putra Jaya yesterday morning. The car Anwar was traveling picked me up at the Royal Selangor Club, Mont Kiara at 9.30am. I parked my car at the Club. We arrived at the ACA at 10.00am. The other two lawyers and I were with Anwar when his statement was recorded by ACA. At about 11.45am Anwar informed the officers that he had a 2.00pm appointment at the IPK and asked to be excused and agreed to appear again at another date to continue for his statement to be recorded. The officer recorded this request in writing. We left Putra Jaya at about 12.00pm. Anwar was to drop me at the Selangor Club, Mont Kiara. The other two lawyers, Sankara Nair and Sivarasa, were to accompany him to the IPK for the 2.00pm appointment. I was dropped off at about 12.40pm. There was ample time for Anwar to go to his home, which was not far from Mont Kiara, and get to the IPK by 2.00pm. I then had a call about 1.00pm that Anwar was arrested at his house by a contingent of police officers. I was shocked.
In the light of the aforesaid facts how Bakri came to the conclusion that he “had reason to believe Anwar was not going to show up because he changed his route” is just beyond belief. If he relied on intelligence then the same police intelligence is seriously flawed which should be a serious concern to all Malaysians.
The IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, is reported to have supported Bakri’s conduct. He was reported to have said that “the police knew what they are doing….” Did they really know?
Home Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, condoned the conduct of Bakri. He was reported to have said that “It doesn’t matter when they arrested as they needed to have his statement…….”. Obviously the Minister had no regard for the integrity of the conduct of police officers when carrying out investigations.
What happened yesterday was reminiscent to what happened at the aftermath of the assault on Anwar a decade ago on the night of Sept. 20, 1998 in Cell No. 6 on the ground floor of Bukit Aman. The conduct of a few senior police officers including a senior officer from the Attorney General’s Chambers in concealing and suppressing the truth about the brutal assault on Anwar by the then IGP, Rahim Noor, until the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in February 1999 is still in the minds of many.
Syed Hamid’s remarks yesterday were akin to Dr. Mahathir’s reckless public statement on September 30, 1998 that Anwar’s injuries could have been self-inflicted. Mahathir was then also the Home Minister.
Bakri’s conduct yesterday will be seen as a dangerous trend in how recklessly police could arrest someone on the basis of “reason to believe” without caring for the truth or falsity of the reason for belief. His conduct was reprehensible and should not be glossed over. It warrants investigation as such conduct brings disrepute to the Royal Malaysian Police.
The events yesterday and the massive jams in Kuala Lumpur three days ago with 1600 policemen deployed on the streets of Kuala Lumpur and vicinity and with Parliament House cordoned off with barbed wire portrayed Malaysia as being in a police State.
These events once again illustrate the urgent need for the government to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Police and establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without delay.
Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy