Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Royal M'sian Police - They watch over us. But who watches over them?

The recent power struggle in Perak has opened a can of worms to show yet another ugly of side of a body that has the royal mandate to serve and protect - the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM). The role of the PDRM in the coup d'├ętat by the Barisan Nasional to wrest control of the state government unconstitutionally is highly questionable, especially to those who believe in the true spirit of democracy.

I, for one, disapprove what the PDRM had done in the handling of the Perak Constitutional crisis - from a civil stance. It is elementary knowledge that an institution like the police should always remain above politics and place the best interest of the public first, above everything else. Sure, there are some who concede that the PDRM had little or no choice but to do what had to be done in Perak in the midst of political and civil chaos but I beg to differ. I feel the PDRM could have done better.

And of course, I am not alone with such a notion that the PDRM had somewhat crossed the line. The Bar Council on May 7 condemned the police's 'unwarranted' interference in the course of events relating to the Perak crisis - that includes putting down protests and physically removing V. Sivakumar from the Speaker’s chair in the Perak state assembly [source].

Consider the following:

  1. On March 3, the police sealed the Perak State Assembly building - preventing all 28 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state elected representatives from entering to hold a sitting. However, on May 7, the police warned the public not to participate in street protests and would not hesitate to arrest anyone found 'preventing' state representatives from entering the Assembly building.
  2. Police officers in plain clothes physically removed V. Sivakumar from the Assembly even though he was the rightfully appointed Assembly Speaker and had not stepped down from that position.
  3. The police arrested BERSIH activist Wong Chin Huat under the Sedition Act on May 6 in less than 24 hours after his press conference to propose the 1BlackMalaysia campaign - a spin-off to Najib's 1Malaysia slogan, urging Malaysians to wear black on May 7 to protest against the Perak coup.
  4. As many as 14 people were detained for participating in a peaceful candlelight vigil outside the Brickfields police station where Wong Chin Huat was held.
  5. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan imposed a ban on the colour black and warned the public not to turn up at the State Assembly building in that colour or risk being arrested.
  6. At least 60 people were arrested on May 7 for wearing black and for 'gathering illegally' in Ipoh.

Speaker V. Sivakumar being forcibly removed from his seat.

Perhaps, the issue here is not what the PDRM 'had done' but rather what they had 'failed to do' which I believe, is to be above politics. Judging from what the PDRM had done - from the arrest of an activist to the ban on black attires - little can be said about whether the PDRM is truly above politics. It seems to me that the very institution tasked to serve and protect the public is wrongfully being used to serve a political agenda. Is the PDRM politically neutral? It should be.

The belief that the police favours a particular political entity over the other is rather apparent and it takes no effort to actually identify the institution's political inclination. One fine example is the PDRM's objection to the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), saying there is no need for one [source].

The proposed IPCMC would be an independent, external oversight body whose principal function is to receive and investigate complaints about the PDRM and its personnel. Having a watchdog would certainly help to make the police more accountable and transparent. [More info on the IPCMC]

And in a published document [pdf] by the president of the gazetted Senior Police Officers Association, ACP Jamaludin bin Hj Khalid, the association which claims to represent 95,000 members 'threatened that it would support the Opposition' if the IPCMC is given the green light. The following are a few of the 'threats' as listed in the document by the association which I find rather preposterous:
  1. The police would allow the crime rate to rise further.
  2. A 5-day working week/8 hours a day rule would be demanded for all police personnel.
  3. The police force would vote for the Opposition.
  4. The mass resignations of police officers.
The failure of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to implement the IPCMC is one of many unfulfilled promises made during his premiership. And apparently, the lack of decisive implementation of such policies can only come back to haunt us, as the Perak crisis have already shown. Hence, I believe the best course of action would be setting up the IPCMC nevertheless. This is because the IPCMC is essential for the check-and-balance we so desperately need when the PDRM is responsible for so many unwarranted actions of late.

If the police has the audacity to act like thugs - throwing about such childish threats of 'potential severe repercussions' and its ignorant refusal to acknowledge the fundamental need for public accountability, then it is high time that the government look into how things are actually run in the force - starting with the leadership.


  1. K L said...

    Change the name to Political Police or Police for Politicians will solve the problem !

  2. Roey said...

    At least... they caught Mas Selamat. XD

  3. vasantarao appalasamy said...

    The most shameful episode in nation’s history happened yesterday. Democracy of people elected representatives completely undermined in the state assembly yesterday, they were physically attacked and the honourable speaker of perak state assembly forcibly removed by authorities. Outside the state assembly, the police arrest of 69 people, including five Members of Parliament and five State Assembly representatives from the Pakatan Rakyat in the police lockdown of Ipoh, was a gross abuse of police powers and the height of irresponsibility.