Law and disorder?

Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.

– Robert Kennedy, American lawyer and politician

How can we have peace and justice in our nation when some of those who swore to protect the citizens deviate from their oath?

Upon induction into the Royal Malaysian Police, our police officers take an oath to “obey, uphold and maintain the laws of Malaysia.”  The well-known motto is Tegas, Adil dan Berhemah (Firm, Just and Well-Mannered)”.

Our Royal Malaysian Police has a long and well established past history traced back to 1807, it is now 214 years old and about 130,000 strong.

Currently, the police force is led by Datuk Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani who became the 13th Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

On May 4 2021, former IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador handed over his duties to Acryl Sani and together with this a gargantuan task to spring-clean the police force.

Before the end of his contractual term, the former IGP over several months voiced out several issues related to alleged corruption within the force.

His allegations of a ‘cartel’ of corrupt officers within the police force captured the attention of the public for a while. At his last press conference, the former IGP took the unprecedented step to explicitly condemn the unnecessary interference of politicians in some police matters.

His mentioning of a minister manipulating appointments for his own political ends also shows how bad the situation has become. All these allegations have even led to calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to be set up to investigate the revelations.

I am sure most Malaysians will not be shocked if efforts are made to undermine the former IGP with a video or allegations to tarnish his reputation. This type of exposé seems to be de rigueur at high-level spats and falling outs.

However, more importantly, what will be done about all the critical issues and allegations?

It would seem that the new IGP will have his plate full navigating the political minefields and also possible internal resistance from within the force.

Acryl Sani has a track record of taking down syndicates.  One such was the African Scam syndicate that was carried out in cooperation with Singapore authorities; another was the arrest of those behind a RM31 million crude palm oil investment scam.

He is also credited with catching those behind a Penang-based foreign exchange trading company that had scammed 400,000 investors and another syndicate that forged and sold Touch ‘n Go cards.

With such a track record we can hope to see the end of more crime syndicates and cartels that are within and outside the police force.

The IGP has also called upon the police force to resolve the team’s unfinished business.

If the issues raised by the former IGP had emerged during a time when there was no pandemic, his allegations would have led to a huge outcry and become a sustained issue that would not disappear from the Malaysian landscape for a long time.

However, due to the on-going rampant spread of the Covid-19 virus, everyone’s attention immediately drifts back to the current hardships caused by the pandemic and the political instability.

Therefore, there is a high possibility that it is only a matter of time before the allegations will be history and forgotten. 

Hence, it becomes even more important that the few personalities and organisations in Malaysia who have always championed the setting up of an independent watchdog body to oversee the police persevere in their efforts.

The civil rights organisations also ought to carry on their good work to keep the many burning issues such as disappeared people and use of excessive force, etc at the forefront.

Due to the concerns of improper political governance and allegations of rotten apples (hopefully not barrels of them) in the police force, it is not surprising that the public has lost confidence in matters related to law and order.

We as individuals also need to play our part and voice out foul play whenever possible in our own ways and means — via civil means of course.

The state of a nation’s law enforcement agencies is one of the key indicators of stability. Public confidence in its enforcement agencies leads to a contented and grateful populace.

In the meantime, let us pray for a change for the better and support the efforts of the many police officers who would like to see the rest of their counterparts put into practice their motto Tegas, Adil dan Berhemah.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.