Tuesday, December 16, 2008

PM to face even bloodier battle. Malaysiakini

Even before the dust has settled for the two ‘reform' bills tabled in Parliament this week, outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is bracing himself to face an even bloodier battle with the Special Complaints Commission Bill.

The controversial bill, which critics have lambasted as a watered-down version of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) mooted by the Royal Police Commission three years ago, will not be tabled in this parliamentary session but is expected to be tabled in February when sitting resumes.

Last week, Abdullah tabled the much-awaited Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption (MCAC) and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) bills - two of his key reform plans.

The two bills were lambasted by the opposition for its perceived lack of independence and have come under close scrutiny when they were being debated in the House this week.

However, Abdullah's biggest fight will be the Special Complaints Commission. And like the two bills, he is not likely to make everyone happy.

The SCC was the government's answer to the IPCMC, which was bitterly opposed by the police force.

The Royal Police Commission, which was set up by Abdullah soon after coming to power in 2003, had recommended the formation of an independent agency to oversee public complaints against the police, arguably the most powerful watchdog ever proposed in Malaysia.

Bid to pacify police force

The police top brass have mounted a strenuous campaign against the IPCMC, including going to the extent of issuing a veiled threat two years ago that they would go as far as voting for the opposition.

In a bid to pacify the police force, who claimed that they were unfairly singled out in the proposed IPCMC bill, the SCC includes public complaints against other enforcement agencies such as immigration and custom.

But the SCC was immediately rejected for its apparent lack of power and independence, with some ex-royal commissioners and opposition politicians describing it as a completely ‘different animal'.
It was subsequently withdrawn late last year in the wake of intense criticism.

It is learnt that the drafters have initiated another round of consultations and rewrite certain clauses in the attempt to give it more teeth.

But given that the bill is going to be the result of compromises made by groups directly affected by the proposed commission, it is not likely to meet the expectations of those who want to see a powerful body that can root out graft in the country's enforcement agencies.-- Malaysiakini

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