Call for a single-minded national commitment to fully implement the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission Report according to its timeline although the Report has many shortcomings and weaknesses, as the 125 recommendations represent the most serious, creditable and far-reaching police reforms in the nation’s history
Speech at Parliamentary Opposition Leader’s Roundtable Conferenceby Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Friday): This Roundtable Conference on the Police Royal Commission Report has been convened primarily because we do not want the most impressive Royal Commission Report in the nation’s history to become a Nine-Day Wonder, to be ignored and forgotten thereafter, leaving no permanent or tangible impact in police reforms to transform the Royal Malaysia Police into a world class, twenty-first century organization that is efficient, clean and trustworthy, dedicated to serving the people and the nation with integrity and respect for human rights.
In fact, there are already signs of increasingly strong and powerful opposition to the full and immediate implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission Report, which is reflected in the mainstream media coverage, both in news, commentaries and editorials, after the first two days with the new emphasis calculated to reduce the high public expectations that significant reforms would ensue from the Police Royal Commission Report. There is not even a single word about the Police Royal Commission report or the subject of police reform in one mainstream national newspaper today!
In the past few days, the Malaysian public have been getting mixed signals about the government’s commitment to fully implement the Police Royal Commission Report recommendations, although this was the tacit undertaking by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his first public reactions to the Commission Report. Abdullah had declared that he was “committed to implementing recommendations that can improve the organisation and prestige of the Royal Malaysian Police as a capable and efficient law enforcement agency for the 21st century” – an undertaking which must embrace all the 125 recommendations.
The mixed signals started to come in thick and fast after the Police Royal Commission Report was made public on Monday. On Tuesday, for instance, Malaysians were shocked by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s statement that “For now, we do not want to say what can and cannot be accepted by the Government” – which could only mean that the government had not decided whether to accept in full or in part the 125 recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Yesterday, Najib revealed that the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday had again discussed the Police Royal Commission Report and its 125 recommendations and studied several aspects in the report which may be immediately implemented “especially the police housing needs, sick projects which have to be revived as well as other logistics".
This is surprising, as Abdullah had earlier announced that the Cabinet had previously set up a task force headed by him to carry out detailed study of the 125 recommendations and to categorise them for immediate, medium and long-term implementation.
If there is a Cabinet task force headed by Abdullah on the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission Report, then why did the Cabinet usurp the powers of the task force by revisiting the Commission recommendations in the subsequent Cabinet meeting when the Prime Minister is out of the country on an official visit to Germany and Holland?
I have publicly criticized the necessity for the Prime Minister to head a task force to carry out detailed study of the 125 recommendations and categorise them for immediate, medium and long-term implementation, as this had been done by the Commission which set out in its Report a time-frame for the implementation of every one of the 125 recommendations.
The 125 recommendations have been divided into five main categories for the implementation of 80 per cent or 99 recommendations within 12 months by May 2006, viz:
by June 2005 - 5
by August 2005 - 21
by December 2005 - 22
by January 2006 - 14
by May 2006 - 37
The perplexing question is why did the Cabinet revisit the issue of the implementation of the Commission Report’s 125 recommendations when it had established a task force headed by the Prime Minister specifically for this purpose. Or has the Cabinet come round to the view that it is not necessary for such a task force as any policy decision on the implementation of the 125 recommendations could be taken by the Cabinet?
The Prime Minister’s statement in Berlin that the government did not propose to set up any more commissions to improve other government agencies similar to the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the police force is most disturbing, for two reasons: firstly, it runs counter to his pledge to bring about civil service reforms as there are many government agencies which need a comprehensive inquiry and total revamp like the police force; and secondly, whether the mounting pressures of opposition to the implementation of the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission have become so intense and overwhelming as to preclude the formation of a second Royal Commission into another government agency!
What I find most disappointing is that up to now, the Police leadership has not come out with a proper response to the Commission report. The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar has said the Commission Report had been presented in a fair and balanced perspective and took into account the broad range of roles and responsibilities of the police. He urged the government to follow through on the recommendations made in the report, particularly in relation to upgrading logistics, manpower, housing and training.
The Inspector-General of Police, however, has nothing to say about the three core areas repeatedly highlighted by the Royal Commission, such as its Executive Summary Conclusion which states: “In order for PDRM to emerge as a modern police service that is efficient, trustworthy and respected, it needs therefore to enhance its performance and restore the public’s confidence in its ability to control crime, contain corruption and comply with the provisions of prescribed laws. It must respond to higher expectations among the community it serves and satisfy public demands for accountability.”
Malaysians are still waiting for the Inspector-General of Police to respond to the Commission’s focus on these three core police challenges so that the police force can transformed into “a world class, twenty-first century organization that is efficient, clean and trustworthy, dedicated to serving the people and the nation with integrity and respect for human rights”.
In the past four days, many criticisms have been levelled against the Commission Report for its shortcomings and weaknesses, including in the three core police challenges to reduce the high incidence of crime, eradicate corruption and respect human rights especially the rights of women and children.
Many such criticisms are valid, legitimate and must continue to be made so that the government, the police and the nation are aware of the higher standards, benchmarks and best practices which the police service is to be compared with and judged.
I wish to call, however, for a single-minded national commitment to fully implement the 125 recommendations of the Police Royal Commission Report according to its timeline although the Report has admittedly many shortcomings and weaknesses, as the 125 recommendations represent the most serious, creditable and far-reaching police reforms in the nation’s history.
The hands of Abdullah must be strengthened so that the forces of resistance and opposition to far-reaching police reforms and the Police Royal Commission Report do not succeed in smothering and killing most of its 125 recommendations in the maze of bureaucracy.
The Police Royal Commission is to date the first and only significant reform measure of Abdullah after 18 months of premiership, and if he is hamstrung from fully implementing its 125 recommendations to create a world-class 21st-century police service with zero tolerance for corruption to keep the crime rate low and to respect human rights, Abdullah may not leave any abiding legacy in history to mark his premiership for future generations.
Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, should unite to form a grand coalition to launch a national campaign for the full and immediate implementation of the Royal Commission Report and its 125 recommendations to secure the betterment of our country and to give our children and children’s children the foundation for a safe and sustainable environment to enjoy a high quality of life.
Let Malaysians from all walks of life, from all political parties and from all parts of the country come together with one voice to lend support to the Prime Minister to overcome the mounting resistance and opposition to the full implementation of the 125 recommendations in accordance with the time-plan of the Royal Commission, with 80 per cent or 99 recommendations implemented within 12 months by May 2006.
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman