Strip search: Malaysian official sorry

Malaysia's deputy internal security minister has apologised for inflaming a police abuse scandal by apparently defending the stripping of a Chinese woman at a police station, an act made public by a secretly shot video.

    The naked woman was secretly filmed doing squats

    Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar on Wednesday said his

    remarks were misinterpreted. "I openly apologise if the

    meaning of my comments was received negatively," Noh was

    quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama.

    Noh whipped up a storm of protest by saying on Tuesday that he

    believed police had not violated procedures in making the

    Chinese woman strip and perform squats in a lockup.

    A video

    of the incident made public last week sparked a national

    scandal.

    "If the foreigners think we are cruel, ask them to go

    back to their own country... For me, it was conducted in

    accordance with the rules"

    Remarks attributed to Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar, which he denied

    "If the foreigners think we are cruel, ask them to go

    back to their own country... For me, it was conducted in

    accordance with the rules," Noh told reporters in p

    arliament on Tuesday, according to local media.

    On Wednesday, Noh denied those remarks.

    "I said that if our country isn't peaceful or if the

    police are as cruel as what is being claimed about them

    nowadays, then how could it be that many foreigners live in

    our country," he said.

    Targeting Chinese

    Earlier on Wednesday, Lim Kit Siang, the opposition

    leader in Parliament, urged Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad

    Badawi to suspend Noh.

    The Malay Mail newspaper said Noh

    had "lost his cool after repeated badgering" by

    journalists over the issue.

    It was not clear whether the woman in the video is a

    Chinese citizen or an ethnic Chinese Malaysian, but the

    incident has bolstered long-standing claims by human rights

    activists that detainees are routinely mistreated in police

    custody.

    It has also raised concerns that police unfairly

    target Chinese.

    "I said that if our country isn't peaceful or if the

    police are as cruel as what is being claimed about them

    nowadays, then how could it be that many foreigners live in

    our country"

    Noh Omar

    Ethnic Chinese comprise about a quarter of Malaysia's 25

    million people, while the majority are ethnic Malays.

    The whereabouts of the woman in the video - shot

    secretly using a camera-phone by an unknown person -

    were not known.

    The video was delivered to Teresa Kok,

    another opposition lawmaker, last week, who went public

    with it.

    Also on Wednesday, police interviewed three Chinese women -

    none of whom were in the video - who claimed they were

    forced to strip in an open area and perform squats while

    being held in a Kuala Lumpur police station for allegedly

    having fake passports.

    One of them claimed a policewoman slapped her and grabbed

    her breasts, while another accused a male officer of making

    lewd remarks, said their lawyer, Sankara Nair.

    He said they plan to sue the police for wrongful detention

    and mistreatment.

    Two of the women are married to Malaysians, while the

    other is a secretarial student living in Malaysia. All were

    arrested on 3 November before being released without charge four

    days later.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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