The statement by the Inspector-General of Police that police do not need parents' consent to question their children has been described as "ridiculous and arrogant" by lawyers and child activists.
Human rights lawyer N. Surendran said Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar's (pic) response to the outcry after police had questioned pupils of SK Seri Pristana would also create panic among parents.
"Parents will now fear that their children can be hauled up any time by the police," he told The Malaysian Insider.
"The IGP must retract his statement as he has put fear in every parent and has given the licence to his men to harass children."
Surendran pointed out that under the Criminal Procedure Code every individual who is questioned by police has right to legal representation.
"For a child, all legal decisions are made by the parents or guardian. That is why if the police need to question a child, the parents must be present.
"A child would not understand the legal implications or sometimes the question itself."
Another lawyer, Fahri Azzat, said the law aside, police should not behave in such an inappropriate manner.
"If you interview a minor, they should ask the parents or at least notify them and allow them to be present. That is common sense," he said.
Fahri said for Khalid to say that parents need not be notified was "not quite right".
Last week, Sungai Buloh police admitted they "interviewed" six pupils of SK Seri Pristana in the school compound following the eating in the shower room issue.
Police claimed that they were given permission by the school headmaster to speak to the pupils.
The parents, saying their children were traumatised, complained that they had not been informed by the police prior to the interview session.
Child activist Dr Hartini Zainuddin said, "Are they crazy? These children are not suspects. The police should have at least notified the parents. Or at the very least, the welfare department officers should be present to safeguard the interest of the child."
She also questioned why it was difficult for the school or the police to inform the parents.
"The parents could have been present to comfort the child and tell them that there was nothing to worry about as such a situation can be quite intimidating," she added.
Voice of Children, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating law and policy reform to ensure that the rights of every child are protected, questioned if police had something to hide when they failed to inform the parents.
"Were police following their own code of conduct?" asked chairman Sharmila Sekaran.
"Although there is no law, there is a principle which should have been followed, that is parents or the guardian should have been informed before police questioned the pupils," she told The Malaysian Insider today.
Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said although there is no specific provision under the Criminal Procedure Code, the police should think of the best interest of the child.
"The minors would be misinformed, led or manipulated into saying something to tailor to police investigations.
"There would also be legal implications against them. Just because there is no law stating this, it does not mean they can do whatever they (police) wanted.
"They should use common sense." - September 5, 2013.