Lack of transparency and professionalism in the handling of the interim
report of Royal Police Commission creating confusion whether it regards
corruption as a serious problem most scandalous and does not speak well of
the Commission, the government or police reform
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday responded to the interim report of the Royal Police Commission suggesting that corruption existed “at every level” by pledging to eliminate corruption in the police force with the qualification that the clean-up will not happen overnight.
He said that as an immediate measure, any report lodged against police personnel will be investigated thoroughly with the necessary follow-up court action.
Such an unexceptional response does not promise any new political will or major crackdown on corruption in the police force, which is totally incommensurate with the gravity of a state of affairs where corruption has permeated all levels of the police force, with six areas, the commercial crime division, narcotics department, logistics department, anti-vice, gambling and secret service societies division and traffic police, specially named as particularly rampant with corruption – especially as this is the sixth year that Abdullah had been personally responsible for the police portfolio, first as Minister for Home Affairs since January 1999 and as Minister for Internal Security after the March 2004 general election.
However, before there could be a full and intensive national debate as to whether Abdullah’s response is an appropriate one to the interim report of the Royal Police Commission on the permeation of corruption at every level of the police force, there is a ridiculous twist of events with the Chairman of the Royal Police Commission, Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah denying that he had made any statement about rampant corruption in the six named police divisions. Dzaiddin was reported in Sin Chew Daily today as denying that he had said in his media conference on 9th August that corruption in the police force was a serious problem.
The question Malaysians are entitled to know from the Royal Police Commission after six months of operation is whether corruption in the police force is a serious and rampant problem or not.
It is downright ridiculous that after the Prime Minister had responded by pledging to eliminate corruption in the police force, although without very convincing follow-up anti-corruption measures, the Chairman of the Royal Police Commission should be denying that corruption in the police force is a serious problem – reflecting most adversely either on the Prime Minister or the Commission Chairman.
The lack of transparency and professionalism in the handling of the interim report of Royal Police Commission creating confusion on whether it regards corruption in the police force as a serious problem is most scandalous and does not speak well of the Commission, the government or police reform to produce a world-class proferssional police service to roll back the crime wave in the country.
The latest flip-flop of the Royal Police Commission is further reason why its Interim Report should speak for itself, and why the report should be immediately made public without any further delay.
The Royal Police Commission proposes to visit other countries to learn from their experience and lessons of police reform. There is no need for the Royal Police Commissioners to go abroad to know that countries which have successfully carried out police reforms put a premium on openness and transparency, which have no hesitation in putting in the public domain their reports, studies and recommendations, whether interim or final, for public consumption and debate.
The Royal Police Commission should have insisted that its Interim Report should be made public to ensure continued public involvement in its deliberations instead of passing the buck to the government.
It would appear that the Royal Police Commission Interim Report has no immediate recommendations as to the urgent measures which the police should adopt to roll back the crime wave which have made Malaysians feel insecure and unsafe in the streets, public places and even in the privacy of their homes, which if true, will be a major blemish of the Interim Report. An immediate clarification from Dzaiddin on this matter will be most pertinent.
I have given notice to raise the issue of the Royal Police Commission Interim Report on the first day of the next parliamentary meeting on September 1, although I hope that by then, Abdullah would have already made the Interim Report public with an ongoing full-scale nation-wide debate about the Interim Report recommendations of the Royal Police Commission.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman