DAP calls on Mahathir to step in to end the unseemly and disgraceful conflict and contradiction by the two Deputy Home Ministers on the issue of low police salaries
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): A sign of the government losing its grip and sense of direction is the spectacle of two Deputy Home Ministers making conflicting and contradictory statements on the same issue just to appeal to different constituencies – which is most disgraceful and the height of political irresponsibility.
Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin was reported by Utusan Malaysia today as saying that the government has no intention to relax entry conditions such as offering higher salaries to attract more Chinese to join the police force.
Just two days earlier on Monday, however, the other Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung was quoted in a front-page exclusive report by Sin Chew Daily (8.9.03) that the Home Ministry had proposed to the Public Services Department for an upward revision of salaries, particularly for the pay and allowances of the lower ranks of the police, to attract youths from all races to join the police force.
Who is right – Zainal or Chor, as one of them is not telling the truth or does not know the truth, as both cannot be right.
It has become quite a disease of the present government for different Ministers and Deputy Ministers to confuse the Malaysian public with different positions on the same issue while speaking to different audiences, but the present case of the two Deputy Home Ministers is the most blatant case to date.
Zainal Abidin was misguided, however, and was doing the police a grave disservice when he took the position that there could be no separate salary scales for the Chinese and the other races – for it is a non-issue as nobody had ever made such a suggestion. DAP had consistently in the past decades called for upward revision of police salaries, especially for the lower ranks, to apply to all regardless of race.
DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to step in to end this unseemly and disgraceful conflict and contradiction by two Deputy Home Ministers on the same issue of low police salaries for different audiences, and this can be done in his 2004 Budget to be presented in Parliament on Friday, where he could announce a new police salary scheme which is 20 per cent higher than other civil servants as in the case of some countries like Japan, Singapore and Britain because the job involved greater stress and higher risks.
The proposal that police pay should be 20 per cent higher than other civil servants was publicly advocated ten years ago by the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Hanif Omar, and I had at that time given full support for the proposal. Why is the current IGP, Tan Sri Norian Mai, ten years behind his predecessor even 10 years ago, and dare not give this proposal his full support?
The 2004 Budget should ensure competitive salaries and a living wage for lower police ranks by raising the police starting pay from the lowly RM684 to a living wage of over RM1,000, so that the take-home pay of police constables would be in excess of RM1,500 a month Meritocracy should also be the rule for all police appointments and promotions.
With these police reforms, the common belief that the police had to resort to corruption to survive because of their low pay can be wiped out and there must be the will to root out corruption in the police force and to establish its reputation as one of the cleanest and least police force in the world.
If these proposals are adopted, then Malaysia will be on the way to develop a world-class police force restoring to the Malaysian people their fundamental right to safety of the person and property and security in the streets, public spaces and the privacy of their homes.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman