I refer to the Malaysiakini report Six killed in shootout with cops.
The police CID chief’s version of events related to the fatal shooting of six suspects in Kulim raises more questions than provides answers. To quote the CID Chief, Bakri Zinin, ‘We had that gang under surveillance for two years. We identified ourselves but they opened fire.
'My men were simply defending themselves. We, too, have the right to defend ourselves, especially when we know the men are armed and dangerous.’
The first question that comes to mind is why were these suspects not arrested earlier if the police had them under surveillance for two years and especially since they knew that they were armed and dangerous? Did it take the police two years to locate and raid this house occupied by the suspects?
The next rather obvious question is how and when did the police identify themselves to the suspects? Bakri Zinin says that the police raiding team comprised CID officers and personnel from Bukit Aman, Penang, Perak and Kedah.
This suggests a planned operation during which the police would have had ample time to stake out the area, cordon off the house and warn the suspects inside of intended police action. Could the CID chief explain what actions were taken to warn the suspects of the intent of the police to use lethal force?
The Kedah police chief Syed Ismail was quoted by Bernama as saying that when the policemen barged into the house and identified themselves, six men between the age of 20 and 50, fired several shots at them, and in defence, the police fired back and the shots hit the six suspects.
Is it standard police practice to barge into homes of suspects and identify themselves especially when they had prior information that the men were armed and dangerous? Is this not reckless action putting the lives of both policemen and suspects at unnecessary risk?
The CID chief also says that a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson 9mm with seven rounds of ammunition and a .38 revolver with five bullets were recovered from the bodies.
Presumably only one or two men with two guns could have fired several shots at the police which resulted in the police firing back.
How is it then that the four or five unarmed suspects were also fatally shot when the police were acting in self-defence? Could Bakri Zinin perhaps explain how many rounds were fired by the suspects and how many by the police in self-defence and what actions were taken to avoid shooting the unarmed suspects?
It is rather amazing that the four women in the house were not shot. The CID chief might explain how these four women managed to escape the crossfire between the suspects and the police but not the unarmed men?
Were all six suspects albeit with two guns shooting at the police from only one area of the house while the four women were all safely hidden some where else in the house?
Forensic and ballistics tests will reveal exactly how and where the men were shot. Presumably Bakri Zinin will ensure that a thorough investigation including these tests will be carried out as required by law and the findings disclosed to satisfy all concerned parties that the police acted professionally.
In framing his response, perhaps Bakri Zinin could refer to two articles from The United Nations Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (UN Basic Principles), which are widely adopted by police throughout the world including presumably by the PDRM.
Article 9: ‘Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self- defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.
In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.’
Article 10:’ In the circumstances provided for under Article 9, law enforcement officials shall identify themselves as such and give a clear warning of their intent to use firearms, with sufficient time for the warning to be observed, unless to do so would unduly place the law enforcement officials at risk or would create a risk of death or serious harm to other persons, or would be clearly inappropriate or pointless in the circumstances of the incident.’
The CID chief expressed outraged by the reactions of NGOs and certain politicians on questioning the police action. He might want to consider that perhaps the PDRM track record may warrant such reactions: 635 persons were shot dead by PDRM from 1989-1999 based on an Asian Human Rights Commission report and figures revealed in Parliament (more recent statistics are unavailable).
For comparison, during the same period in the UK (with a population almost 2.5 times larger than Malaysia) there were 24 cases of persons shot dead by police. Surely something is not right?
Bakri Zinin and his Bukit Aman colleagues should welcome the establishment of the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in order to help them see clearly what is not right and needs to be fixed in order to safeguard the future of both the PDRM and Malaysians.