Recent spate of police “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” outrages the  latest  examples for grave public loss of confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and commitment of the police  and   a great personal affront to Abdullah’s five years as  Home Minister

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangSaturday): The recent spate of police “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” outrages – a police chief inspector who was shot dead on Monday with his accomplice when they attempted to rob a bank and four police trainees alleged to have gang-raped an Indonesian woman in Johore Bahru – are the  latest  examples for the grave  public loss of confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and commitment of the police  as custodians of law and order and   a great personal affront to the five years of the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  as  Home Minister. 

Five years ago in January 1999,  when Abdullah was appointed Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, I had stressed the importance and urgency that he should stamp a new character and personality on the police force and the various departments in the Home Ministry by providing new leadership and injecting a new service ethos in the law enforcement agencies. 

This has yet to be done and Malaysia is still a long way from having a world-class police service enjoying public confidence in its professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness by reversing the double tide of increase in crime rate and the fear of crime to return to the people  their fundamental  right to  safety in the  streets, public spaces and the privacy of their homes. 

In response to the directive from Abdullah, the Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar had vowed to tighten discipline in the police force by speeding up investigations against errant policemen.  He said he would meet with top police officers to work out a solution to the discipline problem. 

What the country  faces is not just errant policemen, but errant police service, as the  problem is not just  police indiscipline, but the very  grave question  of “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi”  where instead of protecting the citizenry from criminals, the police  abused public trust by becoming criminals themselves.

For instance, when four police trainees in a group of 12 could commit the crime of rape and sodomy when undergoing the police training programme, it raises the question not only about police discipline but the even bigger problem of the quality, relevance  and suitability of the entire  police training programme – as to whether it has sufficiently instilled in all the police trainees  the overwhelming  sense of responsibility to be protectors and not violaters of law and order?

The police “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” outrages and the unabated gruesome crimes such as the rape and murder of two 10-year-old girls in the last fortnight,  Hasirawati Saridi in Menggatal, Sabah and Nurul Huda Abdul Ghani in Johore Bahru, have raised anew concerns as to whether the Police Royal Commission which Abdullah said would be announced next week would be able to measure up to public expectations and the national needs.

This is because there has been no consultation of the  Opposition parties and the civil society in the establishment of the  police royal commission to  command unquestioned public confidence from the very start, particularly on two important issues:

  • the appointment of commissioners who are  independent, credible and reputable personalities of integrity; and
  • comprehensive and all-encompassing  powers, scope and terms of reference to ensure that Malaysia has a world-class police service to reduce crime, the fear of crime and an ever-improving Public Safety Index.

If Abdullah cannot appoint commissioners of undoubted and unquestioned public credibility and integrity, the Police Royal Commission will start under a public cloud – which would not only be a crying shame but  a great disservice to the cause of restoring public confidence in the professionalism, independence, effectiveness, efficiency and integrity of the Police.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman