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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kugan buried, questions linger

UPDATE 12

By Shannon Teoh and Neville Spykerman

Mourners raise their fists in anger as they gather around the hearse in front of the USJ8 police station. — Pictures by Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Suspected car thief A. Kugan was finally buried at 5.30pm today after mourners circled his casket and conducted last rites at the Puchong Batu 14 cemetery, eight days after his death in a police station reignited a public outcry about custodial deaths.

The 22-year-old was laid to rest after his hearse and thousands of mourners travelled 20km through hot sun and driving rain from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to the USJ8 police station where he died before finally making its way to the cemetery.

The Selangor government has undertaken the costs of the funeral on "humanitarian grounds", Kapar MP S. Manickavasagam said, adding he had thanked Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for the gesture.

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo telling off a hospital staff for trying to block his way. 'Bugger, behave!' the lawmaker shouted

During the funeral procession, thousands of mourners who accompanied his grieving family and several lawmakers had shouted "Polis Pembunuh" and "We want Justice" with some unfurling banners that said "Polis Pembunuh Berlesen".

The crowd slowed traffic in Puchong and brought it to a standstill in front of the USJ8 police station where a police helicopter hovered overhead during brief family prayers.

The crowd also shouted the name of Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar and the outlawed organisation before leaving the police station as police watched but did not take action.

"The attendance shows the outrage of the public. I hope the Barisan Nasional government takes heed," said Sivarasa Rasiah, who is Subang MP, while joining the funeral procession.

"Eleven (policemen) have been identified but no arrest. This is telling the public that there is a double standard when investigating policemen," he added.

Despite some antagonism from the crowd, police had provided escort for the procession that began from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) at 1.45pm. During the journey to the police station, the crowd had cheered the police "Polis bagi escort" while others blasted the police, shouting "Polis pembunuh Kugan".

Kugan’s family members walk towards the hospital mortuary to claim his body for the funeral

Police had earlier arrested five men wearing Hindraf T-shirts as they threw a tight cordon around the medical centre for the suspected car thief's funeral. They only allowed some 50 people, including family and several lawmakers, to claim Kugan's body.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said family and friends paid respects at the mortuary five at a time. Police had earlier chased away reporters and nearly 100 supporters around the mortuary waiting to pay respects.

The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Light Strike Force had cordoned off the teaching hospital this morning but crowds, responding to text messages, have turned up for the funeral procession. Several tried to go through the barricade but police ordered them to disperse.

Police arrested two men when the crowd was dispersing just after noon. The government had banned the Hindraf movement last year, making all its symbols illegal, after it organised a massive protest in November 2007. Five Hindraf leaders are under ISA detention.

FRU personnel force the crowd away from the mortuary

Another two were arrested later for inciting the crowd, police said. They also wore Hindraf T-shirts.

The latest arrest is Hindraf legal adviser R.S. Thanendran, who also wore a Hindraf T-shirt.

"I don't see why anyone has been arrested. We are not here to make trouble," Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, told reporters.

"They are just here to pay last respects," said Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, who said he will lodge a police report against Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar for making conflicting statements over Kugan's death.

Kugan, a 22-year-old insurance claims executive, was arrested on Jan 14 for allegedly being involved in a luxury car-theft ring. He died on Jan 20 after drinking some water, police claimed. An initial autopsy said he died of "fluid in the lungs".

But the Attorney-General's Chambers has classified the case as murder after an outcry by the family and lawmakers, and a second autopsy over the weekend found external injuries and phlegm in his lungs.

Family members say their farewell.

The family and authorities are waiting for detailed toxicological and tissue tests in the final autopsy report.

Critics have said Kugan's death is the latest in custody deaths in Malaysia, mostly among Indians detained by police.

In 2007, then Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had stated there were 106 deaths in custody between 2000 and 2006. No updated statistics have been issued since then.

Lawyer N Surendan disagreed that it was a racial issue, saying it affected all Malaysians. "Deaths in detention happen to all races," he said.

Eleven police personnel from the USJ8 Taipan police station have been transferred to desk duties pending the outcome of the investigations. A special police team from the Bukit Aman federal headquarters is probing the case and authorities expect to make charges within a week.

Kugan buried, questions linger

UPDATED

By Shannon Teoh and Neville Spykerman

Mourners raise their fists in anger as they gather around the hearse in front of the USJ8 police station. — Pictures by Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Suspected car thief A. Kugan was finally buried at 5.30pm today after mourners circled his casket and conducted last rites at the Puchong Batu 14 cemetery, eight days after his death in a police station reignited a public outcry about custodial deaths.

The 22-year-old was laid to rest after his hearse and thousands of mourners travelled 20km through hot sun and driving rain from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to the USJ8 police station where he died before finally making its way to the cemetery.

The Selangor government has undertaken the costs of the funeral on "humanitarian grounds", Kapar MP S. Manickavasagam said, adding he had thanked Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for the gesture.

During the funeral procession, thousands of mourners who accompanied his grieving family and several lawmakers had shouted "Polis Pembunuh" and "We want Justice" with some unfurling banners that said "Polis Pembunuh Berlesen".

The crowd slowed traffic in Puchong and brought it to a standstill in front of the USJ8 police station where a police helicopter hovered overhead during brief family prayers.

The crowd also shouted the name of Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar and the outlawed organisation before leaving the police station as police watched but did not take action.

"The attendance shows the outrage of the public. I hope the Barisan Nasional government takes heed," said Sivarasa Rasiah, who is Subang MP, while joining the funeral procession.

"Eleven (policemen) have been identified but no arrest. This is telling the public that there is a double standard when investigating policemen," he added.

Despite some antagonism from the crowd, police had provided escort for the procession that began from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) at 1.45pm. During the journey to the police station, the crowd had cheered the police "Polis bagi escort" while others blasted the police, shouting "Polis pembunuh Kugan".

Police had earlier arrested five men wearing Hindraf T-shirts as they threw a tight cordon around the medical centre for the suspected car thief's funeral. They only allowed some 50 people, including family and several lawmakers, to claim Kugan's body.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said family and friends paid respects at the mortuary five at a time. Police had earlier chased away reporters and nearly 100 supporters around the mortuary waiting to pay respects.

FRU personnel force the crowd away from the mortuary

The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Light Strike Force had cordoned off the teaching hospital this morning but crowds, responding to text messages, have turned up for the funeral procession. Several tried to go through the barricade but police ordered them to disperse.

Police arrested two men when the crowd was dispersing just after noon. The government had banned the Hindraf movement last year, making all its symbols illegal, after it organised a massive protest in November 2007. Five Hindraf leaders are under ISA detention.

Another two were arrested later for inciting the crowd, police said. They also wore Hindraf T-shirts.

The latest arrest is Hindraf legal adviser R.S. Thanendran, who also wore a Hindraf T-shirt.

"I don't see why anyone has been arrested. We are not here to make trouble," Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, told reporters.

"They are just here to pay last respects," said Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, who said he will lodge a police report against Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar for making conflicting statements over Kugan's death.

Kugan, a 22-year-old insurance claims executive, was arrested on Jan 14 for allegedly being involved in a luxury car-theft ring. He died on Jan 20 after drinking some water, police claimed. An initial autopsy said he died of "fluid in the lungs".

But the Attorney-General's Chambers has classified the case as murder after an outcry by the family and lawmakers, and a second autopsy over the weekend found external injuries and phlegm in his lungs.

Opposition politicians link arms at the mortuary to ensure they are not broken up by the police

The family and authorities are waiting for detailed toxicological and tissue tests in the final autopsy report.

Critics have said Kugan's death is the latest in custody deaths in Malaysia, mostly among Indians detained by police.

In 2007, then Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had stated there were 106 deaths in custody between 2000 and 2006. No updated statistics have been issued since then.

Lawyer N Surendan disagreed that it was a racial issue, saying it affected all Malaysians. "Deaths in detention happen to all races," he said.

Eleven police personnel from the USJ8 Taipan police station have been transferred to desk duties pending the outcome of the investigations. A special police team from the Bukit Aman federal headquarters is probing the case and authorities expect to make

Kugan hearse slowly makes way to crematorium


Kugan’s family members walk towards the hospital mortuary to claim his body for the funeral. — Picture by Shannon Teoh

UPDATE -The Malaysian Insider

By Shannon Teoh and Neville Spykerman

Mourners raise their fists in anger as they gather around the hearse in front of the USJ8 police station. — Pictures by Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Suspected car thief A. Kugan's hearse finally arrived with thousands of mourners in the driving rain at the Puchong Batu 14 cemetery for his funeral this evening, eight days after his death in a police station reignited a public outcry about custodial deaths.

The 22-year-old will be buried in the cemetery instead of a cremation as reported earlier. The mourners and supporters who accompanied his family and several lawmakers continued to shout "Polis Pembunuh" and "We want Justice" as they sought cover under umbrellas and makeshift shelters.

Traffic congestion in Puchong slowed down the hearse's journey after prayers in front of the USJ8 police station, where he died in custody on Jan 20. A crowd there unfurled banners that said "Polis Pembunuh Berlesen" while chanting "Police Pembunuh" and "We want Justice", bringing traffic to a standstill outside the police station as a police helicopter hovered overhead during the family prayers.

The crowd also shouted the name of Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar and the outlawed organisation before leaving the police station as police watched but did not take action.

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo telling off a hospital staff for trying to block his way. 'Bugger, behave!' the lawmaker shouted

"The attendance shows the outrage of the public. I hope the Barisan Nasional government takes heed," said Sivarasa Rasiah, who is Subang MP, while joining the funeral procession.

"Eleven (policemen) have been identified but no arrest. This is telling the public that there is a double standard when investigating policemen," he added.

Despite some antagonism from the crowd, police had provided escort for the procession that began from the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) at 1.45pm. During the journey to the police station, the crowd had cheered the police "Polis bagi escort" while others blasted the police, shouting "Polis pembunuh Kugan".

Police had earlier arrested five men wearing Hindraf T-shirts as they threw a tight cordon around the medical centre for the suspected car thief's funeral. They only allowed some 50 people, including family and several lawmakers, to claim Kugan's body.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said family and friends paid respects at the mortuary five at a time. Police had earlier chased away reporters and nearly 100 supporters around the mortuary waiting to pay respects.

FRU personnel force the crowd away from the mortuary

The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Light Strike Force had cordoned off the teaching hospital this morning but crowds, responding to text messages, have turned up for the funeral procession. Several tried to go through the barricade but police ordered them to disperse.

Police arrested two men when the crowd was dispersing just after noon. The government had banned the Hindraf movement last year, making all its symbols illegal, after it organised a massive protest in November 2007. Five Hindraf leaders are under ISA detention.

Another two were arrested later for inciting the crowd, police said. They also wore Hindraf T-shirts.

The latest arrest is Hindraf legal adviser R.S. Thanendran, who also wore a Hindraf T-shirt.

"I don't see why anyone has been arrested. We are not here to make trouble," Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, told reporters.

"They are just here to pay last respects," said Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, who said he will lodge a police report against Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar for making conflicting statements over Kugan's death.

Kugan, a 22-year-old insurance claims executive, was arrested on Jan 14 for allegedly being involved in a luxury car-theft ring. He died on Jan 20 after drinking some water, police claimed. An initial autopsy said he died of "fluid in the lungs".

But the Attorney-General's Chambers has classified the case as murder after an outcry by the family and lawmakers, and a second autopsy over the weekend found external injuries and phlegm in his lungs.

Opposition politicians link arms at the mortuary to ensure they are not broken up by the police

The family and authorities are waiting for detailed toxicological and tissue tests in the final autopsy report.

Critics have said Kugan's death is the latest in custody deaths in Malaysia, mostly among Indians detained by police.

In 2007, then Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had stated there were 106 deaths in custody between 2000 and 2006. No updated statistics have been issued since then.

Lawyer N Surendan disagreed that it was a racial issue, saying it affected all Malaysians. "Deaths in detention happen to all races," he said.

Eleven police personnel from the USJ8 Taipan police station have been transferred to desk duties pending the outcome of the investigations. A special police team from the Bukit Aman federal headquarters is probing the case and authorities expect to make

'Perarakan mayat Kugan bukan politik'

Sokongan orang ramai terhadap nasib mendiang A Kugan - dijangka berarak dari Petaling Jaya ke Puchong - bukan perhimpunan politik seperti tanggapan polis, kata sebuah NGO.

Jawatankuasa Pemantau Polis dan Hak Asasi Manusia (JPPHAM) menyifatkan amaran polis untuk bertindak terhadap mereka yang terlibat dalam perarakan tersebut petang ini sebagai "satu lagi bentuk salah guna kuasa" pihak berwajib itu untuk cuba menakutkan orang ramai.

Penyelaras NGO itu S Jayathas menambah, jika polis awal-awal lagi bertindak profesional, perarakan tersebut tidak akan berlaku.

Kugan didakwa mengalami penderaan sewaktu dalam tahanan polis di lokap balai polis Taipan, Subang pada 22 Januari bagi siasatan kes curi kereta mewah.

Perarakan lebih 20 kilometer itu dijadual mulai 2 petang dari Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya (UMMC) ke kawasan perkuburan di Batu 14 Jalan Puchong.

Timbalan ketua polis negara semalam memberi amaran kepada mereka menyertai upacara pengkebumian Kugan agar tidak mencetuskan sentimen perkauman yang boleh menimbulkan kejadian tidak diingini.

"Saya benar-benar berharap perarakan itu berjalan dengan teratur mengikut agama Kugan.

"Polis menghormati keperluan keluarga si mati, maka kita benarkan perarakan dari UMMC ke krematorium di Bt 14 Puchong," kata Tan Sri Ismail Omar dipetik berkata.

"Bagaimanapun, jika ada orang yang cuba melencongkan perarakan dan memulakan demonstrasi, maka kami akan bertindak.

"Jangan emosional dan tolong berhenti menyebarkan mesej tidak perlu yang tidak memberi faedah kepada sesiapa."

Beliau berkata demikian selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat penyelaras mengenai siasatan ke atas kematian Kugan di ibu pejabatpolis Ampang Jaya.

Turut hadir di mesyuarat itu ialah Ketua Polis Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar.

Ismail berkata polis tidak menentang sebarang perarakan pengkebumian untuk Kugan dan menghormati permintaan keluarganya.

Beliau menasihatkan pihak tertentu jangan mengambil kesempatan dari perarakan itu untuk kepentingan mereka.

Empat ditahan polis di hospital UM- Malaysiakini

kemaskini 2:44pm Empat ditahan polis di Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya (PPUM) menjelang perarakan mayat A Kugan - didakwa mati dibunuh dalam jagaan polis minggu lalu - pada jam 2 petang ini.

Ketua polis daerah Brickfields, ACP Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid memberitahu Malaysiakini, dua daripada mereka ditahan jam 12.50 tengah hari ini dekat pintu masuk utama hospital itu.

Tiada maklumat lengkap diperolehi tentang keempat-empat yang ditahan dan dibawa ke balai polis Brickfields.

Kira-kira 200 berjalan kaki mengiringi sebuah kereta Mercedes berwarna emas yang membawa mayat Kugan ke balai polis Taipan, Subang Jaya - tempat mendiang ditemui mati.

Mereka merancang berarak sejauh lebih 20km ke tanah perkuburan di Batu 14 Jalan Puchong.

Will Kugan get the justice he deserves?

'This has happened so many times in our country. Why would this case be any different? The life of an average Malaysian has become chillingly cheap.'

On Probe paper on Kugan's death almost completed

A Malaysian: Not be too pessimistic, but I don’t think Kugan will get the justice he deserves. Why? Well, just look at the track record of the Malaysian police force. Has the force ever done anything to be really proud of? And while we are on the subject of track records, our justice system is nothing to be proud of either.

Judging by the media coverage, it seems our police force is more interested in catching pirated disc peddlers and those who gather peacefully for vigils and protests rather than go after real criminals. Does the government think the rakyat has forgotten about the brutal murder of Nurin and the dissapearances of Sharlinie and Mohd Asmawi? What has the force done in these unsolved cases? Apart from distributing posters, nothing much.

Let me make a prediction. Kugan’s second post-mortem will be inconclusive, his family will protest and a long court case will follow. All the while, his alleged murderers will be pushing pens while on ‘desk duty’. And the government will continue promising a thorough and impartial investigation.

If the case ever goes on trial, it will be hampered by long and mind-boggling technicalities. People will get tired of reading it, interest will slowly fade and the memory of A Kugan will only live on the minds of those who knew him. Six months from now, who will remember him?

Sadly, this has happened so many times in our country. Why would this case be any different? The life of an average Malaysian has become chillingly cheap. All we can do now is protect ourselves as it seems like the very people who are tasked with protecting us have become our biggest enemies.

Peter Ooi: Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan must understand Kugan's family for barging into the mortuary to view his body. I do not condone their actions but I do understand their feelings.

A healthy young man in his early twenty's has died suddenly in detention. Who in their right frame of mind would believe such a thing? And it is becoming worryingly frequent for young, able bodied men to meet their fate under police detention.

Yes, Kugan's sudden death is puzzling and the culprits must pay the price.

The AG ,for one, has been fast in classifying the case as murder. His speed is impressive but I do have my reservations. After seeing the police bungling up in so many high-profile cases, I have my doubts that they will do a good job on this one, especially when the accused could be one of their own comrades. My only prayer is that this time around, they can prove otherwise.

Xroy: After watching the video footage of his relatives viewing his dead body, and after hearing what one of the relatives was saying in Tamil, I must agree with the relative that Kugan died much earlier than reported.

The relatives did not look like a mob as described by the Inspector General of police, and the claim that they could have tampered with evidence is even more alarming. It smacks of a deliberate attempt not to solve this murder, under the guise that the evidence was tampered with.

If indeed they did not want the relatives to be there, the police should have completed the post mortem and returned the body to Kugan's family, why was this not done?

The ghost of Altantuya seems to be haunting us in this case, it looks so abundantly clear that there are some people who will get away with murder as they have in the Altantuya case.

My only assumption is Kugan could have known too much in this case and that left some people uncomfortable. Who were those men who turned up at his aunt's home the morning after his arrests looking for him claiming to be police? Only the police will be able to shed some light in this.

Are we dealing with a criminal police force?

If, as they so often claim, MIC is really a party championing the cause of the Indians in this country, the party, particularly Samy Vellu, have a grave issue in their hands.

Is he going to come out and demand action or is he too afraid to do that? Or is he only concerned about the MIC elections and his political survival?

T Rozario: Dear Tan Sri Musa Hassan, you cannot refer to the family of police detainee A Kugan, for whom you, as head of the police force was custodian, who rushed into the mortuary to inspect his body after they discovered he had died in custody, as a mob.

People normally refer to organised criminals who kill as the ‘mob’. These were concerned members of a family and they certainly can't be referred to as the ‘mob’. I hope you'll correct your statement and find out who the ‘mob’ in this case really is.

I just can't believe how someone could get behind police lines and kill Kugan now that the AG has classified his death as murder.

MP: Kugan's case shows how much a life is worth in our country. The first action taken by President Obama was to ban torture during interrogations in the USA.

Can the government of Malaysia also pass an order banning torture on suspected criminals by police as well as those under the draconian ISA? We proclaim to the whole world that Malaysia is a modern country, but our actions speak louder than words!

Megat Z: Charge the doctor who carried out the first post-mortem for making a false report? What false report? What he reported was the cause of death. From his findings, he concluded that the cause of death was due to "liquid in the lungs" .

There should instead be a probe into how the liquid got into Kugan’s lungs or how a person could drown while in detention. Remember, a person can drown in a pail of water...

Do not charge the doctor but charge the person who brought in that pail of water into the cell. If such a thing did indeed happen.


On 'Morgue raid': Deputy ministers can face action

P Sritharan: Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar has two cases to deal with: the mysterious death of A Kugan while under police custody and the presence of two deputy ministers in the mortuary in which the deceased’s body was being kept. The duo, along with Kugan’s distraught family members, have been widely accused of barging into the mortuary.

Being a senior minister with a legal background, Syed Hamid should know which of these cases is more serious and warrants an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation.

However, our ‘wise’ minister seems more irritated by presence of the two deputy ministers in the mortuary than the mysterious death of a 22 year-old-youth while under police custody.

The deputy ministers, either directly or indirectly, were duty bound to be there. Hence, they should be lauded for their prompt attendance and not be threatened with criminal action. Even if at all they might have done anything wrong, Syed Hamid should have met them personally to find out their side of the story.

Instead, the Home Minister issues statements that belittle the deputy ministers for carrying out their duties as elected representatives of the people. If the rakyat cannot depend on good, fearless government servants such as these in their time of need, who can they turn to? Please don’t say the police.

Syed Hamid, if this is how your government handles such cases, rest assured more people will vote for the opposition, not because they are perfect, but out of frustration and in retaliation against Barisan Nasional.

Milton Yap: I am livid that the Home Minister has threatened to take action against the two deputy ministers. It is more and more telling that the authorities are trying to cover up a gross injustice by the police.

Instead of going after the real people who caused the atrocities, they are going after the people who try to uncover these criminal acts. I can’t wait for the next general election when we can vote out this uncaring government.

In the meantime, we must ask our prime minister and the prime-minister-in-waiting what they intend to do with Syed Hamid. Are they going to let him make more and more mistakes so that the people can vote the BN out?

There has been a string of such mistakes by the Home Minister, including the detention of the Sin Chew Daily journalist. So, it appears that we have a government who persecutes those who uncover criminal activities instead of those who carry them out.

In Kugan’s case, it appears that there is a plan to cover up the incident. For example, was the doctor who conducted the first post mortem under pressure from the police? He should come clean on this. If not, he should be investigated, his licence revoked and be charged for perversion of justice.

The Selangor police chief should also be investigated if he had sought to cover up the activities of his men. He should be suspended immediately.


On Palanivel: Set up independent committee

Vijay: The MIC never ceases to amaze and disgust. I wonder what drivel its deputy president Palanevel was speaking about when he asked for a committee to investigate Kugan's murder so that it "can create greater transparency and accountability on the part of the government". What transparency and accountability is he referring to? These two elements of any respectable government have been dead in the corridors of the Malaysian government for a very long time

The time for accountability is long gone, it is now time for justice and retribution. Yes, an enquiry must be held, but to identify all the police personnel involved and find a fitting punishment to be meted out to them.

Whether directly involved or not, those guilty must include the Home Minister and the Inspector General of Police. For too long and too often have such incidents of torture taken place under their leadership. Not to hold them both accountable now would be akin to abetting in the murder of Kugan.

Palanivel goes on to "laud the police for acting quickly on the matter". For heaven' sake, they were trying to cover up the matter! Every time a non-Umno Barisan Nasional politician makes a statement, he always feels compelled to include a fawning compliment. Why?

In any other country, those in high places would have resigned by now. But then, for that to happen, you would need to have a decent and honourable government. Such a thing is unheard of in this country.

Huge crowd as Kugan funeral begins

UPDATE 4

By Shannon Teoh-The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — A huge crowd is now following A. Kugan's funeral procession from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) under the watchful eyes of the police to the USJ 8 police station for prayers before the final rites at the Puchong Batu 14 crematorium this evening.

Police are providing an escort for the procession.

They had earlier arrested five men wearing Hindraf T-shirts as they threw a tight cordon around the medical centre for the suspected car thief's funeral. They only allowed some 50 people, including family and several lawmakers, to claim Kugan's body.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said family and friends paid respects at the mortuary five at a time. Police had earlier chased away reporters and nearly 100 supporters around the mortuary waiting to pay respects.

The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and Light Strike Force had cordoned off the teaching hospital this morning but crowds, responding to text messages, have turned up for the funeral procession. Several tried to go through the barricade but police ordered them to disperse.

Police arrested two men when the crowd were dispersing just after noon. The government had banned the Hindraf movement last year, making all its symbols illegal, after it organised a massive protest in November 2007. Five Hindraf leaders are under ISA detention.

Another two were arrested later for inciting the crowd, police said. They also wore Hindraf T-shirts.

"I don't see why anyone has been arrested. We are not here to make trouble," Gobind, who is also Puchong MP, told reporters.

"They are just here to pay last respects," said Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, who said he will lodge a police report against Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar for making conflicting statements over Kugan's death.

Kugan, a 22-year-old insurance claims executive, was arrested on Jan 14 for allegedly being involved in a luxury car-theft ring. He died on Jan 20 after drinking some water, police claimed. An initial autopsy said he died of "fluid in the lungs".

But the Attorney-General's Chambers have classified the case as murder after an outcry by the family and lawmakers, and a second autopsy over the weekend found external injuries and phlegm in his lungs.

The family and authorities are waiting for detailed toxicological and tissue tests in the final autopsy report.

Critics have said Kugan's death is the latest in custody deaths in Malaysia, mostly among Indians detained by the police.

But Hindraf legal advisor S. Tanendran disagreed, saying it is a Malaysian issue, not a racial issue. "Deaths in detention happens to all races," he said.

POLICE & BN AGENTS TO PROVOCATE AN INCIDENT AT KUGAN'S FUNERAL TO JUSTIFY THEIR ACTIONS

POLICE & BN AGENTS TO PROVOCATE AN INCIDENT AT KUGAN'S FUNERAL TO JUSTIFY THEIR ACTIONS

With intense heat on the Police force since the brutal murder of police detainee A Kugan while in police custody for investigations into theft of luxury cars in the Klang Valley, and to justify and 'bail' themselves of any accusations, it is reported that the police via their special branch officers and agents from Barisan Nasional mainly from UMNO will be deployed to create a provocative incident during the scheduled funeral on tomorrow (Wednesday) and the crowd of mourners attending this funeral have to be 'WARNED & TO BE BEWARE'.

This could be ascertained with the remarks made by Selangor Police Chief, Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar warning those attending the funeral of Kugan not to participate in any illegal gathering or carrying banners and posters and warned those attending not to be politicised or turned into an illegal demonstration as it would disrupt public order and lead to chaos.

BN/UMNO regime is becoming fearful that the funeral of Kugan will not only turn into a public display of anger against the Police but also against the uncaring, useless, arrogant and corrupted UMNO led Barisan Nasional government by its own Indian led coalition partners and Indian public who have lately seen themselves as a target of attack to instill fear that this minority group should just listen and obey and jangan cakap banyak.

According to the Scribe, there are reason to believe that agent provocateurs will be planted by the Police Special Branch among the crowd of mourners to instigated trouble so that the Police and the Evil BN/UMNO regime can blame it on Pakatan Rakyat and the banned HINDRAF. This will give excuse to Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar the need to use the Police Act, the Emergency Ordinace Act and the ISA to stifle public dissent mainly against the Indian community against a corrupt and discredited despotic regime.

The organizers of Kugan's funeral must exercise extreme caution so as not to give the Evil Police and the Evil UMNO led BN government the excuse to act.

news n picture courtesy of MarGeeMar & The Scribe

Kugan’s final journey: An end to custodial deaths?

kugan

Lawyers address a crowd inside the University Hospital premises

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Riot police take up positions as an officer orders the crowd to disperse

This was the scene outside the University Hospital at about 1.20pm today. Police probably outnumbered the crowd as half a dozen riot police trucks waited along Jalan Universiti outside the hospital.

Kugan is expected to make his final journey to Puchong today.

I hope this will close the long chapter on the deaths in police custody over the years and usher in an era of greater professionalism, accountability and respect for human rights and due process.

Memo to cabinet

Hindraf Views

HINDRAF views the arrest and attempt by Police to stop mourners from attending the late Kugan's funeral as suppression of the rights of democratic citizens to attend public gatherings in accordance to their rights enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal constitution. The acts of police clearly shows that they behave in a manner above the constitution and this behavior is in par with the UMNO policies of suppression all forms of legitamate voice of dissent amongst the people.

HINDRAF views the action of police seriously especially when the murderers of Kugan are let loose on a light desk job. Why are there a disparity of justice meted out when the suspects are members of the Royal Police force. In any normal circumstances murder suspects would be immediately arrested and a maximum remand order obtained. This is usually done to facilitiate investigations and to prevent suspects from tampering evidence and hamper police investigations.

However in the Kugan case the Police suspects are given a desk job. And the Police, Attorney general and our very serior "learned" Home Minister Hamid Albar urge Malaysians to have faith in the system and let the cause of justice prevail.

How do they expect Malaysians to have faith in their administration of justice which is filled with immoral individuals who serve their personal interests above the interest of nation????

Unless and until the Police suspects and all those responsible are arrested and the CPO of Selangor suspended and the first pathologist who conducted the post mortem arrested for perverting the cause of justice the people of Malaysia would never have faith on the System and the People Power would continue to act in the best National Interests even at the cause of them being incarcerated.

thank you.

waytha moorthy
Chairman
HINDRAF

Funeral Procession Not a Political Rally.

The statement by the CPO of Selangor Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar concerning the funeral procesion on wed 28 jan 2009 is another abuse of authority by the police calculated to intimidate and dissuade the Malaysian Public from attending the funeral of A.Kugan and to turn the tide of Public Opinion against Police Brutality.

The CPO has a history of distorting and covering up the truth.

In this instance he has gone further to demonise the victim and all Malaysians who wish to see him off in his final journey.

He fails to see the fact that if the police had acted proffessionaly, there would not have been a funeral in the first place.

If the police have a concsience and wish to atone for the sins of their collegues, the least they could do is to ensure the funeral proceeds smoothly without interference by any quarters

The government of the day should be sensitive to aggrieved parties and give them the public space to express their legitimate grievances.

Too many deaths in custody have taken place because the culprits have got away scot- free and the public has largely been complacent.

In this instance, the public sentiment could well see the implementation of concrete measures to put a stop to such atrocities.

Therefore the public not only have a right but a civic duty to attend the funeral and express their empathy for the family and their indignation at such abuses.

Any attempt by the Police to disrupt the peaceful funeral on whatever pretext would only further erode their credibility and that of the ruling government.

Therefore I implore the police to cease and desist from intimidating and provoking peace loving Malaysians who turn up to mourn the death in custody of Kugan.

His family has been put through enough trauma.

I wish to emphasise that the Funeral procession tomorrow will be a peaceful and solemn event in accordance with Hindu Rites and Rituals. The public should not be cowed by irresponsible statements made in the name of "public order", lest the death of Kugan be in vain.

Therefore ALL MALAYSIANS irrespective of Race, Religion or Creed are invited to pay their last respects to this young man at 2pm on Wednesday, 28 Jan 2009 at the Mortuary of the University Hospital and onward to the cemetry in 14th mile Puchong Road.

May his soul rest in peace. OM SHANTI.

S.JAYATHAS
HINDRAF Makkal SAKTHI

Kugan’s Funeral

Funeral of A. Kugan whom brutality Murdered by Police while in custody. Malaysian encouraged to pay last respect and as mark to of their support towards our call to end Police brutality towards Defenseless Detainees.

Location : From Universiti Hospital Mortuarty to Puchong Cemetery

Details : 28th January 2009 at 2pm

RESPECT THE DEATH AND HIS FAMILY’S GRIVEANCES.

It’s seems police instead of focusing into arresting those responsible for the death of car theft suspect A Kugan, trying to PROVOKE Racial Disharmony in Malaysia.

We Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives and other Non Governmental organisation are merely fighting to uphold Justice for the death and Basic Human Right in Malaysia. The late Kugan is only been suspected to be involved in car theft while his family claim he worked as Insurance Claim agent. Police too yet to found any solid proof that he involved in act of stealing luxury cars. What police found only few Camry’s and Honda’s which for myself it’s only Executive Class cars not Luxury as reported widely in someone else warehouse.

While, Pakatan Rakyat views the death of Kugan in Custody as Malaysian problem the Police , UMNO ruled government and NGO’s related to it trying to make it as merely INDIAN issue . Warning issued by Police merely suggest their act of diverting from real issue i.e BRUTAL MURDER of A Kugan while in Custody and failure to HAUNT the persons Behind CAR Theft syndicates.

I would like to call upon all Malaysian to respect Kugan’s Death. Its normal practice for Malaysian of any religion to follow funeral possession as last respect to the death. How could this be a treat to nation’s security and create disharmony among races? Sympathiser, PEACE LOVING and those whom still believe Justice will prevail in Malaysia decided to join the Family members of Brutally Murdered A. Kugan .

Leaders such PRO-Government NGO and Government officers including Ministers that provoking racial disharmony and taking advantage to show their racism should be arrested immediately.

I was told that Pakatan Rakyat Youth Members comprising a truly Malaysian delegate expected to join the procession too.

We, Malaysia still believe that Law and Order will be uphold by Malaysia Police Force by respecting culture of late Kugan’s family members. They should accept the fact that knowingly or unknowingly they Killed Him Brutally and the family deserve Justice to be uphold without any partiality be it any person of any social status.

I urge Police to avoid using their old tactics but allow All Malaysian to Pay Last Respect to Him and Let Him Rest in Peace forever without any Hindrance.

I just love this country

Image

Datuk Nasarudin’s ex-comrades and ‘friends’ from Umno have been to see him to persuade him to re-crossover to Umno. “Altantuya is dead,” they remind him. “Bala is missing. We don’t want anything happening to you as well.”

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Item 1

The Selangor police have warned those attending the funeral of A. Kugan, who died whilst in police custody, not to participate in any illegal gathering or carry banners and posters. The funeral is scheduled on Wednesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the funeral should not be politicised or turned into an illegal demonstration as it would disrupt public order and lead to chaos. He believed that plans were underway by certain groups to turn the occasion into an illegal gathering to protest against alleged police brutality.

Khalid said the police learnt the funeral procession would be organised in such a manner that it would involve certain parts of the city before arriving at an undisclosed burial ground in Selangor.

"Cards and banners are also expected to be carried by members of the procession," he said in a statement here Monday.

The police chief advised the public not participate in the illegal gathering as the force was not against a normal funeral procession and respected the grieving family. (Bernama 26 Jan 2009)

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Item 2

Two deputy ministers are likely to face action if they are found to have broken the law in the incident where a crowd raided the mortuary of Serdang Hospital in Selangor on Tuesday, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

Datuk K. Devamany and Senator T. Murugiah, both deputy ministers in the Prime Minister's Department, were present at the mortuary when the crowd entered the premises to examine the body of suspected car thief A. Kugan who had died while in police custody.

"No minister or member of the administration is above the law and if you have committed an offence then you have to face the consequences," Syed Hamid told reporters before attending a public forum on the Internal Security Act (ISA) here last night.

He also said that the 11 policemen being investigated for allegedly causing hurt to Kugan would not be spared action if they were found to have abused their powers.

Kugan, 22, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while being questioned on Tuesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had said a post-mortem found that Kugan had died due to fluid in his lungs but Kugan's family sought a second post-mortem, insisting that Kugan had died of injuries.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said later that Kugan's death had been classified as murder. (Bernama 26 Jan 2009)

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Item 3

The MIC will defend the two deputy ministers if the authorities find them to have broken the law in the incident where a crowd raided the mortuary of Serdang Hospital last Tuesday.

"We will hire as many lawyers to defend them if they are charged in court," MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said in a statement issued here today.

He was commenting on Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar's statement yesterday that Datuk K. Devamany and Senator T. Murugiah, both deputy ministers in the Prime Minister's Department, might likely face action if they were present at the mortuary when the crowd barged into the mortuary to examine the body of suspected car thief A. Kugan who had died while in police custody.

The MIC president said it did not matter from which party the two deputy ministers hailed from as long as they were Indians "because the MIC represents the Indian community in Malaysia".

While Devamany is a MIC member, Murugiah is from the People's Progressive Party (PPP).

Devamany was among nine people quizzed by the police yesterday over the incident. It was also reported that 11 policemen being investigated for allegedly causing hurt to Kugan would not be spared action if they were found to have abused their powers.

Kugan, 22, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while being questioned on Tuesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had said a post-mortem found that Kugan had died due to fluid in his lungs, but Kugan's family sought a second post-mortem, insisting that Kugan had died of injuries.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said later that Kugan's death had been classified as murder.

Samy Vellu also urged Syed Hamid to ensure that the police probe into Kugan's death was transparent.

"The MIC will be monitoring the case but we are confident that the police will leave no stones unturned in their investigation," he said. (Bernama 26 Jan 2009)

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Item 4

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has described Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim’s decision to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as “not surprising”.

“I am not surprised ... but he might have his own reasons (to defect) and we should know the reasons,” he said yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid who was met by reporters after the closing of the Islamic Economic Development Festival 2009 (I-Fest 09) here, said the Barisan Nasional needed to look not only into Nasarudin’s reasons for making the decision, but also that of other assemblymen and MPs who intended to do the same, especially in the opposition-ruled states.

“Perhaps the problem is about allocations, where we (federal government) can help. Maybe they find it difficult to fund activities, which they often do as the people’s representatives.

“So, assistance should be extended to them so that personal pressure does not become political pressure for these elected representatives,” added Ahmad Zahid, who is an Umno Supreme Council member.

Yesterday, Nasarudin announced his decision to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat which he said was made after due consideration. (Bernama 26 Jan 2009)

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Item 5

The Terengganu state government will investigate if there were any misdeeds by chairmen of village security and development committees (JKKK) in distribution of aid.

Terengganu Menteri Besar, Datuk Ahmad Said, said detailed investigation had to be done as perhaps the allegations were just that. He however admitted that there were cases where JKKK chairmen had given aid to their own family members.

"There have been cases when if someone challenged the JKKK chairman, he (the chairman) would not provide aid...he would give it to his family members," Ahmad told reporters at the MCA Terengganu Chinese New Year celebration at Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman here today.

Ahmad said the appointment of the JKKK chairman and members was done twice a year by the district office after names were suggested by the local representatives.

"We will study the performance of the JKKKs...how many times they meet a year, what activities they have to benefit the people. All this will be considered before new appointments are made," he said. (Bernama 26 Jan 2006)

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Yes, that was what Bernama reported yesterday, the first day of the Year of the Ox. And, going by the Bernama

Incidentally, someone told me that the Year of the Ox is also dangerous for those born in the Year of the Tiger. The Year of the Ox, I was told, is full of pitfalls for those born in the Year of the Tiger. And I was born in the Year of the Tiger -- 1950 to be exact. So I expect this spells bad news for me considering the many court cases and trials that I will be faced with the next 12 months.

But then I was born a few minutes after midnight -- on 27 September 1950 -- and those born around midnight are supposed to be ‘Midnight Tigers’ because tigers come out late at night to search for food. Well, that is what my late Chinese mother-in-law told me. “Midnight Tigers are very fierce,” she told me. “They will ‘eat’ their parents. Both your parents face the risk of dying young because of you.”

I never did believe these old wives’ tales -- Malay, Chinese or Indian -- and I never took a second take on the matter. But then both my parents died in their mid-40s and it set me wondering if old wives’ tales could have some element of truth in them after all. Did I ‘eat’ my parents, as my mother-in-law said would happen?

Anyway, Barisan Nasional’s and Umno’s problems are bigger than mine, so it appears from the Bernama reports. MIC is in crisis. MCA is in crisis. Umno is in crisis.

Tomorrow, at 2.00pm, Kugan’s funeral procession will commence from the University Hospital mortuary and will end up at the 14th-mile Puchong cemetery. Will members of MIC also join the funeral? If they do not then it will be seen as if MIC has abandoned the Indians. But if they do join then they would be seen as ‘anti-government’. reports, it is going to be an extremely turbulent year for Barisan Nasional and Umno.

Damned if you do join the funeral and damned if you don’t. And if the Malays and Chinese join the funeral, as I have been told will happen, then MIC is double-damned if they don’t also participate. And they will also be double-damned if they do participate considering PAS, DAP and PKR leaders will also be in the funeral procession.

Hah! I hate to be in MIC’s shoes tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Umno is pretending that Datuk Nasarudin Hashim’s crossover to PKR is a non-issue. Well, why then did Najib call all the Barisan Nasional Perak Wakil Rakyats for a meeting and force them to swear to God that they will not also crossover? And why were eight Barisan Nasional Perak Wakil Rakyats absent from the meeting? Is it maybe true after all what the Perak Menteri Besar said that two more Barisan Nasional Perak Wakil Rakyats would also soon join Pakatan Rakyat?

Umno has ‘counter-offered’ Datuk Nasarudin a tasty carrot. If Barisan Nasional forms the Perak State Government then he would be made Menteri Besar if he leaves Pakatan Rakyat and rejoins Umno. Datuk Nasarudin had a good laugh at the offer.

Tasty carrot, maybe, but no thanks, he replied. He said he has his principles and once he spits he never drops to the ground to lick it up again. Yeap, not all pray to money. Some do treat money as their servant and not instead become a servant to their money, even some in Umno -- Datuk Zaid Ibrahim being another case in point.

Other than tasty carrots, Datuk Nasarudin is also being given the stick. Datuk Nasarudin’s ex-comrades and ‘friends’ from Umno have been to see him to persuade him to re-crossover to Umno. “Altantuya is dead,” they remind him. “Bala is missing. We don’t want anything happening to you as well.”

Hmm…is this ‘friendly advice’ or a veiled threat? Take it how you like but Datuk Nasarudin is not succumbing to whatever it may be, advice or threat. And even the six cars parked in front of his house are not making him change his mind, although he does admit it is making him a bit worried.

Finally, on the JKKK issue. All the JKKK officials are Umno branch and division committee members. You can’t be in the JKKK otherwise. And they get tons of money, which is supposed to be dished out to the kampong people -- but only to the Umno kampong people, not the opposition people. This is how they buy support and ensure that the kampong

No one accounts for the money. As long as Umno wins the elections no questions are asked even though everyone knows hundreds of millions are siphoned out through this ‘scheme’. But now that Umno lost the Kuala Terengganu by-election they want to start ‘auditing’ how the money was spent and find out what happened to all those millions of Ringgit.

Malaysia sure is funny is it not? The government can tolerate mismanagement of public funds as long as Umno wins all the elections. But the instant they begin losing then they want to audit the expenditure. And while Umno leaves no stone unturned in its effort to buy over Pakatan Rakyat Wakil Rakyats, what happens instead is Barisan Nasional Wakil Rakyats cross over to the opposition.

I just love this country.
people remain with Umno.

Deputy IGP: Keep funeral procession trouble-free

AMPANG JAYA, Jan 27 — Do not provoke or cause trouble.

That was the warning issued by Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar to those who wished to take part in the funeral procession of A Kugan, who died while in custody at the Taipan, USJ 8 Subang Jaya police station on Jan 22.

He said those taking part in the procession from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to Bt 14, Puchong, should not provoke racial sentiments that may spark untoward incidents.

Ismail cautioned that stern action would be taken against “trouble-makers” at tomorrow’s procession, scheduled to start at 2pm.

“I really hope the procession will be a peaceful one and one that is in accordance with Kugan’s faith, and done with proper rituals and rites. Police respect the deceased family’s needs and thus we have allowed the procession from UMMC to the Hindu Crematorium in Bt 14 Puchong.

“However if people try to divert the procession or start a demonstration, we will initiate action. I urge them remain calm and not be emotional and please stop spreading unwanted messages which does not benefit anyone,” he said.

He told reporters this at the Ampang Jaya Police Headquarters, after chairing a coordination meeting on the investigation of Kugan’s death, in the presence of Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar.

He also warned those who may take advantage of the procession for their own mileage.

Kugan who was detained on Jan 15 on suspicion of being involved in luxury car theft cases, collapsed and died at the station on Jan 22, while being questioned by police.

Police initially classified the case as sudden death but the 23-year-old’s family later released photographs of the deceased with bruises and severe marks on his body, deep cuts on his wrists and bruises on his legs, apparently taken at the Serdang Hospital mortuary, while awaiting a post-mortem.

This then prompted the family to request for a second post-mortem at the UMMC.

Subsequently Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Gani Patail, ordered the case to be reclassified as murder after the photographs were made public.

Asked on Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah’s (Pewaris) decision to gather at the UMMC tomorrow to protest the procession, Ismail said: “I would like to make it clear again, don’t take things for granted.”

“We have said it many times, do not create any chaotic situation or else be prepared to face the law if you want to break the law,” he added.

Asked if any police personal would be charged with Kugan’s death, he said the police would await the A-G’s directive before initiating any action.

Meanwhile, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, senator T. Murugiah today urged everyone to restrain from any form of demonstration, including displaying banners condemning the police.

“Since the government has fulfilled the family’s request for a second post-mortem and also pledged an in-depth investigation into the matter, there should be no demonstrations,” he said.

He added that everyone must respect the law of the country and let the investigation take its course.

“Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the Attorney General had given assurance that there will be no cover up and that a thorough investigation will be carried out. So we should respect the government’s initiative,” said Murugiah. — Bernama

2 caveats on MACC’s independence, credibility and professionalism

(Lim Kit Siang) The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must live down its very bad start which has seriously undermined its claim to independence, credibility and professionalism as compared to its predecessor, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

The MACC had swung into action in the past week and although it seemed to be in an “all-out war” mode against Umno “ikan bilis”, it has to convince Malaysians that it is becoming another ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong) which brooks no nonsense in its fight against corruption on two important grounds:

• Firstly, when will it move from Umno “ikan bilis” to Umno “ikan yu” to eradicate corruption in the most corrupt institution in the country; and

• Secondly, its “stop work” in its first 17 days of establishment for fear of jeopardizing UMNO’s victory in the Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17, although Malaysians were promised that the MACC would hit the ground attacking corruption from January 1, 2009.

In fact, on January 14, three days before the Kuala Terengganu by-election, the MACC was forced to delay charging a former Barisan Nasional (BN) state assemblyman in Selangor for corruption so as not to affect UMNO’s result in the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Former BN Selangor State Assemblyman (Semenyih), Datuk Ahmad Kuris Mohd Nor, also former head of the Hulu Langat Umno division, was only charged on four separate counts of corruption involving RM200,000 in the Ampang Sessions Court a week later – after the Kuala Terengganu by-election result.

In the event, whether a former Umno state assemblyman was charged for corruption before or after the polling would have made no difference to the outcome of the Kuala Terenggany by-election result.

But would the MACC be so “considerate” as to hold back corruption charges if the accused involved had been a PAS or Pakatan Rakyat leader?

Can we hear an explanation from the Chief Commissioner of MACC, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan, to these two clear caveats about the independence, credibility and professionalism of MACC in the very first month of MACC existence?

A dearth of death inquests

by Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera(The Malaysian Insider)

JAN 26 – Custodial death often brings with it an air of suspicion. The suspicion may be real or misplaced; the death may have resulted from suicide, natural causes or foul play.

When a person is taken into legally sanctioned custody, the law imposes a duty on the custodial officer to ensure the safety of the person in custody.

Therefore, there is always the need to be transparent and accountable; and to provide satisfactory answers to the grieving family members on the causes and circumstances of the death.

The deceased’s family ought not be left groping in the dark for answers which they are entitled to know; that they may come to terms with their loss and lay to rest their loved ones.

The failure to conduct timely independent inquests into such deaths often creates suspicion in the minds of the public that the authorities have something to hide. This would then result in a consequent increase in negative perceptions of custodial authorities.

However, the fact of the matter is that such independent inquests are not readily forthcoming.

The lack of interest and speed in conducting inquests into custodial deaths is even more troubling when the law makes it mandatory for the local Magistrate to conduct such inquests when the death occurred whilst the deceased was in police custody or incarcerated in prison or held in a psychiatric hospital.

The Criminal Procedure Code provides that when a person dies while in the custody of the police, the officer who had custody of that person shall immediately give intimation of such death to the nearest Magistrate and that the Magistrate shall hold an inquiry into the cause of the death.

The law recognises the need for an independent judicial body to conduct inquiry into custodial deaths. In this regard, the Magistrate is given the power to subpoena potential witnesses, order the production of evidential material and documents that may assist the Magistrate to arrive at a considered opinion.

Parliament in its wisdom has provided safeguards and mechanisms to arrive at an unbiased decision devoid of accusations of conflict of interest. However, in reality these provisions of the law are hardly used.

The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police had found that during a period of five years from 2000 to 2004 there were 80 deaths of persons in police custody.

Out of the 80 cases, only 39 cases had been referred to the Magistrate for inquiry. And of the 39 cases, only in 6 cases did the Magistrate conduct inquest.

Adding insult to injury, the Royal Commission found that in some 22 cases which had been referred to the Magistrate, decisions had been made to not hold inquests.

Quite correctly, the Royal Commission pointed out that this was contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code which requires and mandates that inquests be conducted in all cases of death in custody.

To say the least, the system was not working. There was glaring dereliction of duty by those who had been entrusted with the task of carrying out judicial inquiries into custodial deaths. There was an urgent need to build public confidence which had been eroding for sometime.

In acknowledging this failure, the then Home Minister in 2006 said the government would implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee looking into the overhaul of the Criminal Procedure Code, to set up Coroners Courts in Malaysia, so that cases involving “death under suspicious circumstances” which would include deaths in police custody can be dealt with more efficiently and humanely.

He lamented that, “at present, such cases do not seem to get sufficient attention” and that “many get lost in the maze of other cases brought up before the Magistrate”.

The Parliamentary Select Committee also recommended that qualified doctors and medical professionals be appointed as Coroners to further enhance the efficacy, credibility and impartiality of the process. The legal fraternity was in support of the reform.

However, as in most proposals of legal reform promised by the government, they are yet to materialise.

The urgency for the need of such reform is illustrated by the recent death in custody of Kugan Ananthan and the ensuing events which have contributed to further erosion of public confidence in the criminal justice system and the police force.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in 2005 issued a comprehensive report entitled “Police Accountability: Too Important To Neglect, Too Urgent to Delay”, in which the need for external accountability mechanisms was emphasised.

The report found that “As governments increasingly embrace the philosophy of democratic policing, attempts are on to make policing more transparent, involve outsiders, build public confidence, allay fears of bias, assure impartiality of investigation, make the receipt of complaints easier, reduce abuse of power and misconduct, change the internal culture and ensure ever better performance.”

Therefore, the CHRI hoped that “new external civilian oversight systems will complement existing mechanisms and together create a web of accountability from which it is increasingly difficult for police misconduct to escape without consequences”.

The Coroner’s Court, in addition to the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) would have been two such civilian oversight systems which would have well augmented the existing internal accountability systems within the police force.

However, we have been made to wait. The resistance to change and reform has been stubborn and persistent. This resistance can be overcome only with the responsible exercise of political will.

For, ultimately, the main obstacle to reform is the lack of political will.

Corruption Main Obstacle To Development Says Tun Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 (Bernama) -- Corruption is the single most important obstruction to a nation's development, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

He said corruption was a social disease found all over the world and that no country was absolutely free from the menace and that in some nations, corruption had become institutionalised.

"And corruption is among the most difficult crimes to detect and even more difficult to gain conviction in courts of law. But corruption is the single most important obstruction to a country's development.

"Good decisions cannot be made and even bad decisions would face a lot of delays. In the end most of the investments for the development of the country just could not be made," he said his speech at the Global Competitive Forum at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The text of his speech, entitled "Sharing Malaysia's Experiance in Becoming A Competitive World Player", was made available to Bernama here.

The former prime minister pointed out that contractors for government projects were usually the principal victims of corruption and "just about anything which involves approvals by the authorities would be subjected to demands for illegal gratification."

"With corruption, cost must go up. How much it will go up cannot be ascertained. There is no rate for corruption and there is no certainty that after payments are made there will not be others who will demand for gratification.

"There is corruption in Malaysia, though it was still at the first stage during my time, that is, the corrupt officers still hid their acceptance because they feared being apprehended or they did not like doing wrong openly," said Dr Mahathir.

At this stage, he said it may still be possible to reduce corruption but when it reached the second stage, becoming part of the people's culture, and everyone, from the top to the bottom openly expect and accept bribes, little could be done to stop corruption.

However, he said corruption could be reduced although it cannot be prevented altogether.

"In Malaysia we insisted in shortening the process and the time for making decisions. This we did by introducing manuals of procedures for every type of work, by having work flow charts and desk files for every officer.

"If the time taken to approve or disapprove goes beyond that stipulated in the procedures we would be able to quickly know that something was wrong and we would know where the delay had taken place and the culprit involved," he added.

He said the result of this system was dramatic and suddenly the city of Kuala Lumpur grew, investments were approved, factories were built and all the infrastructure projects took off.

"Admittedly there was still some corruption but not to the extent that the development of the country could not take place or be grossly delayed," said Dr Mahathir.

Trouble-makers At Kugan's Procession Or Funeral Face Stern Action

AMPANG JAYA, Jan 27 (Bernama) -- Do not provoke or cause trouble.

That was the warning issued by Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar to those who wished to take part in the funeral procession of A. Kugan, who died while in custody at the Taipan, USJ 8 Subang Jaya police station on Jan 22.

He said those taking part in the procession from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) to Bt 14, Puchong, should not provoke racial sentiments that may spark untoward incidents.

Ismail cautioned that stern action would be taken against "trouble-makers" at tomorrow's procession, scheduled to start at 2pm.

"I really hope the procession will be a peaceful one and one that is in accordance with Kugan's faith, and done with proper rituals and rites. Police respect the deceased family's needs and thus we have allowed the procession from UMMC to the Hindu Crematorium in Bt 14 Puchong.

"However if people try to divert the procession or start a demonstration, we will initiate action. I urge them remain calm and not be emotional and please stop spreading unwanted messages which does not benefit anyone," he said.

He told reporters this at the Ampang Jaya Police Headquarters, after chairing a coordination meeting on the investigation of Kugan's death, in the presence of Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar.

He also warned those who may take advantage of the procession for their own mileage.

Kugan who was detained on Jan 15 on suspicion of being involved in luxury car theft cases, collapsed and died at the station on Jan 22, while being questioned by police.

Police initially classified the case as sudden death but the 23-year-old's family later released photographs of the deceased with bruises and severe marks on his body, deep cuts on his wrists and bruises on his legs, apparently taken at the Serdang Hospital mortuary, while awaiting a post-mortem.

This then prompted the family to request for a second post-mortem at the UMMC.

Subsequently Attorney-General (A-G) Tan Sri Gani Patail, ordered the case to be reclassified as murder after the photographs were made public.

Asked on Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah's (Pewaris) decision to gather at the UMMC tomorrow to protest the procession, Ismail said: "I would like to make it clear again, don't take things for granted."

"We have said it many times, do not create any chaotic situation or else be prepared to face the law if you want to break the law," he added.

Asked if any police personal would be charged with Kugan's death, he said the police would await the A-G's directive before initiating any action.

Meanwhile, deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department, senator T. Murugiah today urged everyone to restrain from any form of demonstration, including displaying banners condemning the police.

"Since the government has fulfilled the family's request for a second post-mortem and also pledged an in-depth investigation into the matter, there should be no demonstrations," he told Bernama.

He added that everyone must respect the law of the country and let the investigation take its course.

"Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the Attorney General had given assurance that there will be no cover up and that a thorough investigation will be carried out. So we should respect the government's initiative," said Murugiah.