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Squatgate Commission – Is police prepared to accept the principle that strip searches are not a routine police practice but are done only in exceptional circumstances and no more than about five per cent of all searches?


Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Monday): If the Police is  resistant to acceptance of  the first of the eight Squatgate Commission’s recommendations for the “immediate discontinuance” of the nude earsquat practice, the Cabinet on Wednesday should  override the police and accept the recommendation with immediate effect as a matter of national policy.

The Cabinet decided on Wednesday that all proposals on the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) made in the Squatgate Commission report be referred to the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad which is looking into the amendments to the Code.   I have been informed by DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok, who is  a member of the Select Committee, that the Select Committee would be having its meetings in the second week of February.

However, the Commission’s first recommendation on the “immediate discontinuance” of the police nude earsquat practice has nothing to do with the CPC or the Select Committee, as it is only a question of whether the police leadership is prepared to accept and implement this Commission recommendation by sending out a clear directive that no more “nude ketuk ketampi” of detainees in police custody is henceforth allowed!

Only two of the Squatgate Commission’s recommendations are related to the work of the Select Committee, namely:

  • A Code of Practice on Body Search be passed as a subsidiary legislation under the Criminal Procedure Code. (A draft of the proposed Code of Practice is included in the Report).
  • Amendment of Chapter IV and V of the Criminal Procedure Code dealing with searches to incorporate the following:

(i)                 Decency to be defined to include prohibition of total exposure of a person’s body at any one time as most jurisdictions (in other countries) provide for partial clothing when such a search is conducted; and

(ii)               To adopt categories of searches beginning from the least intrusive to most instrusive, i.e. pat down search, strip search and intimate search.

The  police leadership should declare whether it is  prepared to accept the principle that strip searches are not a routine police practice but are done only in exceptional circumstances and no more than about five per cent of all searches?

The Squatgate Commision’s recommendations for a Code of Practice to be passed by Parliament to ensure safeguards against violations of human rights and dignity in police searches is most welcome and long overdue.

The other five recommendations of the Squatgate Commission, which also have nothing to do with the Select Committee, are:

  • Whole Body Scanners be installed in police stations.
  • PDRM shall make the Code of Practice on Body Search accessible to the public through their website.
  • Educate the public of their personal rights during investigations through public campaigns and other means including through their website.
  • To emphasise on the importance of human rights in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other International Instruments and Syariah principles through an increase in training and awareness programmes with PDRM.
  • To expedite the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission as recommended in the Royal Commission Report be implemented without further delay.

What is the fate of these five recommendations? The Cabinet cannot just “pass the buck” on the Squatgate Commission Report  to the Select Committee on Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code.  It should make at least two other decisions on the Report on Wednesday:

  • Endorse and implementation of the recommendation to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct  Commission; and
  • Making the 318-page  Squatgate Commission Report accessible to the public on the Internet.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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