The police officers found negligent in the custodial death of lorry driver P Chandran should face disciplinary action, said an opposition MP.
On Monday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court awarded RM357,500 to Chandran's wife N Selvi, 46, and daughter C Rita, 23, after finding the police officers in charge had not complied with the Lock-Up Rules 1953.
"It is most sad and totally unacceptable that a life was lost because of the failure of the investigating officer to follow the rules.
"The police concerned must be disciplined," said Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, a lawyer who often handles death in custody cases.
The DAP lawmaker noted that High Court judge S Nantha Balan in his ruling had also said that such cases should not happen in a modern democracy.
"I cannot agree more with the judge. The government cannot take custodial deaths as mere statistics and allow them to become the rule of the day," said Kulasegaran.
He added a two-pronged approached was necessary to tackle the problem. This, he said, involved changing the police mindset and the implementation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
According to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), there had been an average of 17 deaths annually involving detainees between 2000 to 2014.
Kulasegaran said the Home Ministry in a parliamentary written reply to him last year had also revealed there were 269 deaths in custody in the past 16 years.
He said the reply showed 220 of the deaths were due to serious illnesses and no inquest was deemed necessary for 102 of these cases.
"The annual number of deaths certainly shows that there is a systemic problem which must be effectively addressed.
"The government must realise that every life is important and all prisoners have the same right to life as others," he said.
Chandran was in 2012 arrested on suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping of an Indonesian baby originally given up for adoption.
Chandran, aged 47 at the time, died due to hypertensive heart disease after police did not allow him to take his medication.
Police only discovered the death after 12 hours.
The High Court judge ruled that the police acted negligently when they failed to take note of his condition and send him to a hospital.- Mkini