Malaysia: Woman in nude squat video identified
Updated: 2005-12-14 09:14
The Malaysian authorities said yesterday they had identified a Chinese woman
who was forced to strip and perform squats in police custody, but sought to keep
her name a secret.
A combination of
video grabs from a mobile phone video clip shows a young Chinese woman
after she was stripped at a police station in Malaysia.
Government lawyer Suhaimi Ibrahim
said a "prime witness" would testify today at an inquiry into the scandal, but
he stopped short of confirming whether the witness was the Chinese woman.
"Evidence regarding the identity of the nude woman... will be presented," Mr
Suhaimi told a five-member independent panel conducting the public hearings that
"When the prime witness gives evidence, we would like a gag order to prevent
the press from publishing the name, photographs or details of the identity" of
the woman, he said.
Mr Suhaimi refused to explain the move or clarify whether the Chinese woman
is among 21 witnesses summoned to appear before a commission of legal experts
and politicians appointed by the government to investigate whether police
violated her rights.
Video footage of the woman disrobing and doing squats in the presence of a
female officer in a lock-up was secretly shot using a camera phone by an
unidentified person and sent to an opposition lawmaker who went public with it
China's government has formally protested and urged action over the alleged
But it remains unclear whether the woman is a Chinese national or a Malaysian
The video has stirred a public outcry in Malaysia about police procedures and
bolstered long-standing claims by human rights activists that the authorities
routinely mistreat detainees.
Yesterday, a senior police official told the inquiry that ordering detainees
to do squats has been a common practice over the past two decades to ensure
people arrested were not hiding weapons, drugs or other banned objects.
Police have found drugs and bullets using this procedure in the past, said
Mohamad Hazam Abdul Halim, the police chief of Kuala Lumpur's Petaling Jaya
district, where the woman was taken into custody.
However, detainees "must be inspected with courtesy," he said, adding that
the procedure should only be performed in the presence of one police officer.
The police official said that the nude rear-squat was not stipulated in any
standing order nor contained in any police procedure or regulation.
But based on "what was passed on" to him by his senior officers, he had
instructed all personnel at the Petaling Jaya police station to follow the
procedure, he said.
And he added that failure to follow the verbal order would result in the
lower-ranking officers facing disciplinary action.