Citizen Nades - In breach of the Penal Code

08 Jul 2015 / 00:02 H.

    NO one is above the law. This is what we have always been told. Everyone irrespective of their position or status is supposed to observe and comply with the law of the land. There's no exemption for anyone except the royalty. This theory and principle has seen both its good days and bad ones.
    There have been instances when the wrongdoers have gotten away under various guises or excuses. "Lack of evidence to bring about a successful prosecution" is a common one. "Witnesses have turned hostile and changed their stories in court" is another.
    But at the end of it all, the due process must take place before a pronouncement of guilt or innocence takes place. Anyone accused of any wrongdoing has to follow the procedures when they are being investigated. Even if innocent, the route for exoneration is only what is prescribed in the law – no short cuts.
    The spat between the police and officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission which made the front page in this newspaper yesterday has all the hallmarks of a system that has been manipulated to prevent the completion of a routine which is cast in stone.
    When someone is arrested, he is taken to the office of the authorities where he is questioned on the alleged offence. If the answers provided are acceptable, then it is the end of the story. But if the arrest had been made with malicious intent or without due reason, it takes a different turn.
    Back to the incident at the Sepang police station. The assistant investigating officer (AIO) – a police sergeant – had summoned the wives of three suspected accomplices in a fake robbery to come to the station. They were required to hand over monies from the proceeds of the crime which they had allegedly withdrawn from various bank accounts.
    The women felt that it was odd that money was being demanded and went to the MACC. A trap was set and when the money was handed over, the officers moved in and arrested the sergeant. He was to be taken to the MACC headquarters for questioning. A senior police officer made a call and prevented the removal of the sergeant.
    The police felt it was wrong of the MACC to arrest the sergeant and the Selangor police chief supposedly intervened. It's not the end of the story. "You arrest him and we have instructions to arrest you" was the message to the officers.
    So, it became a turf-war of sorts. The MACC officer lodged a police report alleging that the police prevented him from carrying out his duties.
    The key issue here is not the sergeant's innocence or guilt. It is the law that matters and the actions of the police were in breach of the Penal Code.
    If the sergeant was allowed to be taken away for questioning, where he would have explained the whole issue, everything would have been sorted out.
    On Monday, colleague Charles Ramendran, who is on the crime beat, spoke to his police contacts and filed a story which among others said: "There was no wrongdoing by the assistant investigating officer (AIO) as everything was put on paper ... However, MACC officers identified themselves and decided to detain the AIO who protested as he was carrying out his duties."
    But the central issue is: Shouldn't the AIO have followed the officers to the MACC office and explained everything to them?
    Why should his bosses enter the fray with threats? Shouldn't the due process of the law have taken place?
    Wouldn't the MACC have released the sergeant almost immediately after recording his statement? Why was there the necessity to jump the gun? Shouldn't the police officers have refrained from interfering with the discharge of duties as required by the law?
    Now, here are two telling facts: The police have admitted making the call and the threats. They have not denied that two other officers had prevented the MACC from carrying out their duties – vis-à-vis arresting the officer and taking him away for questioning.
    The Selangor CPO says the matter has been resolved. But the issue is that there was a breach of the Penal Code which makes it an offence for anyone to prevent a public officer from carrying out his duties.
    If the case is closed or classified as "No Further Action", what message is being sent out to the public? Wouldn't that be treated as "the police are above the law"?
    We agree, perhaps, the police officers acted in such a manner because they believed in the innocence of the AIO. However, this is only a mitigating factor but the principal charge must remain.
    But the good news is that the MACC is pursuing the case and only the "misunderstanding" has been resolved, said MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Shukri Abdul.
    "We have not closed the file. We are going ahead with the issue of obstruction," he said in a telephone interview.
    Like all right-thinking Malaysians, we commend the MACC for its continued pursuit against all wrongdoers without fear or favour. And we will stand alongside you when you tackle instances of misuse or abuse of power.
    R. Nadeswaran says that the fair application of the law is one way to enhance the reputation of our corruption fighters. Comments:

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