Some clarification, please?

I previously wrote HERE that according to Charles Santiago, there were 1,535 custodial deaths between 2003-2007. I re-quote:

According to statistics revealed in Parliament last year, there were a total of 1535 custodial deaths in the country between 2003 and 2007.

This was posted on 22 Jan 2009. So “last year” in the quote above would mean 2008.

Today, I came across an article in the Malaysian Insider HERE, with the following information:

In 2007, then Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had stated there were 106 deaths in custody between 2000 and 2006. No updated statistics have been issued since then.

The figures are completely out-of-sync.

I am not going to dwell on the figures. As far as I’m concerned, 106 deaths in custody is no better than 1535. They were deaths that weren’t supposed to happen.

What I’m concerned about is the discrepancy between the two figures. The difference is so huge, that I can only think that someone made a mistake while typing up their articles, and was not meant to mislead us.

Another point is that according to Malaysian Insider, the most updated statistic was issued in 2007. But according to Charles Santiago, his figures came from Parliament in 2008.

These two articles are completely contradictory. Putting aside the believability of these two sources and their numbers, I am completely baffled at how different these two pieces of information can be.

Is this really just a case of “typo”? Or is this the consequence of not having updated information readily available? Whichever it is, this has left me unsure and completely in the dark, which really shouldn’t be the case.


4 Comments on “Some clarification, please?”

  1. Gadfly says:

    Statistics should reflect and not distort reality. Stats about custodial deaths are not number games or mind games.

    Stats can tell lies or the truth, or at least indicate the magnitude or depth of the problem.

    The criteria of how the data is extracted also need to be known so as to get a clearer picture. Unlike counting of human bodies in natural disaater, the exact number of human deaths in controlled man-made environment can be objectively known. No massaging of figures is possible unless deliberately done so.

    To minimise or doctor the numbers is an act of denial. This makes matters worse, as no lesson is learnt.

    To exaggerate the numbers is to risk losing credibility.

    Awaiting confirmation from Charles Santiago.

  2. Mat Cendana says:

    I think it might be like this: The lesser one is “in police custody” while the other involves all – immigration centres, prisons, rehabilitation centres, lockups; and what else? Just a guess.

    BTW I’m wondering how some of you with WordPress blogs now manage to have the “Notify by email” box below. I can’t seem to find the way to include it at my Recovery site.
    I was thinking the same thing. Their figures could be different because they encapsulate different meanings for “custodial death”. But whichever the case, the numbers are just horrendous.

    About the “Notify by email” box, I think it actually comes automatically. It’s on your page too. You just don’t see it there the same way I don’t see it on my blog. I think it’s coz we’re the authors?

  3. gopangkor says:

    Mat Cendana is right on the spot. And of these deaths, greatest number is due to health reasons (including denial of proper medical treatments, an issue SUARAM is pursuing), suicides and fights between inmates. Number of death in police custody (in lockups or during medical treatment in hospitals) never reaches 20 per year. Most of the victims are drug suspects and perperators of violent crimes (rape, murder, armed robbery). Drug suspects are, anyway, already dead before they were even arrested. The rest of the criminals were better dead than alive.

  4. Gadfly says:

    Kugan’s death teaches us what Death is not- death is not murderous torture to prove guilt, death is not murdering of all humanness in a human being.

    How do we judge 20 custodial deaths is acceptable? How about 200 or 1,000? Without knowing the circumstances how deaths occur, it is difficult to make sense of the numbers. Let us use a hypothetical case: Out of one thousand suspects all are treated in the most humane way possible, except one we just gas-chamber him without trial. Is it OK? It is the simple moral principle of how we treat a human being is at stake here – Don’t do to others what we don’t want others to do onto us.

    Are perpetrators of violent crime,criminal suspects and drug-addicts sub-human or non-human? If they are, the simple solution is to push them all into the sea or gas-chamber them. To demonise a human being(s) is to dehumanise them. Once dehumanised, our normal human revulsion to murder is pushed out of awareness. And the line is crossed where all cruelty is acceptable. I believe this is what had happened to Kugan.

    We should not glorify death nor trivialise it. If we deny death, we deny humanity, we deny to see whether there is any spark of humaneness in other seen as ‘sub-human’ by us.

    If it is possible to know the chilhood of the 11 policemen involved and that of Kugan’s, I believe we can find their innocence in their own ways. They are not born murderers or theives. But, their encounter ended in a tragic way. Why what is preventable becomes inevitable?

    When I asked my young German friend over a glass of beer what he thinks about Nazism, he told me rather passionately, ” We Germans are not paricularly evil. Germans are not more evil or less evil than any other human beings. My father subscribed to Nazi ideology. I am not responsible for what he did in the war. But, I am responsible for this generation and the future generations that we must get rid of racism.”

    May be there is something we can learn from others who learnt the lessons in the most incomphrehensible way.

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