January 29th, 2009 by Hafiz Noor Shams
While Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said that his statement about criminals should not be regarded as heroes does not refer to the recent death of Kugan — an alleged criminal who died in police custody under suspicious conditions — I find it hard not to make the connection. Surely such statement is linked to the controversy because such statement cannot be cooked up all the sudden out of nowhere. There has to be a trigger and that trigger is most definitely the death of Kugan. The Home Minister is taking concerned individuals for fools it seems. One lesson of March 8 2008 has yet to sink into him.
Regardless of that, to state that various individuals and groups are taking criminals as heroes is an argument done in bad faith. It dishonestly paints individuals and groups rallying around Kugan in bad light. That is definitely not the best way to build bridges. As a person once served as the Foreign Minister of this country, I actually expected a more refined argument from him. One that is befitting of diplomats. I guess, I was wrong.
Firstly, Kuran is an alleged criminal. Nothing has been proven yet and to consider Kugan as criminal is to assume too much. Indeed the police personnel involved should be considered innocent until proven guilty too. Investigation into the matter should duly take place first because any conclusion is made. That is a reasonable standard to take up but it must be made applicable to Kugan too. Any double standard will make the matter worse.
More importantly, concerns for the death, even if Kugan was convicted of the crime he was accused of, is not about defending a criminal. As a Home Minister, he should know that this is about rule of law.
While investigation is underway, pictures circulating on the internet are hard to ignore. Those pictures of terrible wounds on Kugan are incriminating to the police; it suggests torture took place while Kugan was under the care of the police. Did the police carry out torture on Kugan?
The possibility of torture and murder are both transgression of rights. When that transgressions occur, that means there is a possibility of disrespect for rule of law. Even criminals have their rights and that death, if indeed caused by the police, would be the ultimate transgression of rights.
When right to life is held with contempt, then something is not right. That is the whole point of this issue. It is quite cleanly and clearly not about defending or mourning a criminal. If Kugan were still alive, were not tortured and were properly convicted if indeed he was guilty of the accused crime, then trust me, nobody would have come to the side of Kugan.
 — PUTRAJAYA, Jan 28 — The people should not regard criminals as heroes and the police who enforce the law as demons, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said today.
Speaking in general terms, he said no one was above the law and added that action would be taken against those who broke the law, even if it was the police. [Syed Hamid: Don’t regard criminals as heroes. Bernama. The Malaysian Insider. January 8 2009]
 — [A. Kugan: Horrifying pictures depict latest victim of police brutality/murder? Jelas.info. January 22 2009]