Abdullah should resist attempts to whittle down the power, scope and terms of reference of the Royal Commission on the Police and not compromise in an all-out war against corruption
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Thursday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Cabinet should
resist attempts to whittle down the power, scope and terms of reference of the Royal Commission on the Police and not back down from an all-out war against corruption, whether in police, the public service or the political establishment.
Abdullah’s statement yesterday that the Royal Commission on the Police is “not a reflection of police integrity” is disturbing as it sent out a most jarring message from his hitherto clear and unequivocal call for a clean and incorruptible public service since becoming the Prime Minister two months ago.
It is too late in the day for Abdullah to say that the establishment of the Royal Commission does not mean that the Royal Malaysia Police lack integrity and was merely to enhance the force so that the police would be more efficient in carrying out their task, as he himself had said on Monday that issues like police violation of human rights, police brutality, poor service, corruption and other “negative traits” must be eradicated and should be the focus of the Royal Commission.
If we want to break the back of rampant corruption in the country, then a frontal attack on corruption in the police must be a foremost agenda.
Last year, a joint survey by the Malaysian Institute of Management and the Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity in Selayang Baru and Bandar Baru Selayang involving about 1,000 ratepayers found that the police force was ranked the most corrupt of all government agencies, with the police deemed “highly corrupt” by 59.5 per cent of the respondents.
The Road Transport Department came a distant second (19.6 per cent), followed by the municipal council (7.3 per cent), land office (5.5 per cent), judicial office (1.1 per cent), Health Department (0.7 per cent), Environment Department (0.4 per cent) and Fire Department (0.3 percent).
It is imperative that Abdullah and the Cabinet must resist attempts to whittle down the power, scope and terms of reference of the Royal Commission to innocuous areas, which would immediately undermine its credibility and authority.
Special care must be taken to frame a comprehensive and all-encompassing terms of reference of the Royal Commission to restore public confidence in the police professionalism, independence, effectiveness and efficiency to reduce the double rise in the crime rate and fear of crime and to appoint independent, reputable and credible commissioners.
The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin’s statement that the Royal Commission would gather feedback from the two groups of retired and serving policemen to review weaknesses and work procedures in the police force (NST 31.12.03) is unexceptional and a good idea, provided that no member of the Royal Commission should be a current and former member of the Police Force as this would immediately precipitate a crisis of confidence in the royal commission.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman