Leave police matters to the IGP

It is the common people’s duty to police the police.

– Steven Magee, engineer

What is the most important task of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP)?

Ask a layman that question and this will be the most likely (and sensible) response. The main role of the IGP is to lead his team of men and women in strict compliance of law enforcement rules and ethics and ensure the safety and security of the citizenry and country.

That alone is a tall order for any IGP. Unfortunately, in essence, it is not as smooth sailing as stated. The IGP will surely be a very happy man if his duties are that straight forward and uncomplicated.

As the top gun in Bukit Aman, the IGP also has 120,000 men and women under him. If that is not enough “human” problems and issues to deal with, the worst is possibly unwarranted interference in police work from political masters.

This past week, we witnessed a clear case of political interference in the work of the IGP.

It is quite clear that IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador was not very happy when his recent order for the transfer of senior police officers was halted by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

Last Saturday, the IGP said that he would meet the minister to explain his decision and that his order was made “for the benefit of all”.

I do not wish to speculate why the minister should interfere in the transfer of this particular batch of police officers. After all, the transfer of officers is a normal process in PDRM. Almost every other month, some officers will either be promoted or transferred. So, why the fuss about this recent transfer?

Hamzah’s hand in this case has fuelled speculation that politicians could be involved in the anti-IGP Hamid cartel which was exposed recently by the top cop himself.

It must also be noted that Hamid has been working overtime these past months to clean Bukit Aman of “saboteurs and traitors” who have been working in cahoots with big-time criminals.

The successful crackdown of the “Nicky Gang”, responsible for a multi-billion-ringgit scam operations and other illegal activities, has also exposed the involvement of police element and that of a deputy public prosecutor.

In light of such development, Malaysians must view political interference in the IGP’s decision with great suspicion. The home minister must be reminded that his action will only be seen very negatively by the public.

I am of the opinion that the home minister has no power to “postpone” the decision made by the IGP, as control and command of the police force is under Hamid’s jurisdiction.

Even though the country is now in a state of emergency and Parliament is suspended, this does not mean that the home minister has powers that go beyond the provisions of the law to interfere with the jurisdiction of the IGP.

According to Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) president Brigadier-General (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji, stopping the transfer of officers for disciplinary reasons that was already decided by the IGP is an act of bad faith by the home minister and contravenes the Police Act.

He added that the IGP has the prerogative to command and control the police force and all officers under him, which includes disciplining and transferring officers.

“The Police Act is very clear with regards to the IGP’s authority in the disciplinary control he may exercise. Transferring officers on disciplinary grounds is within his jurisdiction,” Arshad said.

I’m glad that Arshad has made that part of the Police Act clear. Perhaps the minister needs better advisers on the proper procedures to take before rescinding any orders of the IGP.

In any event, the home minister and all politicians should support the IGP’s efforts to clean the image of the police force which has been a longstanding rot in Bukit Aman.

What is noteworthy is this episode is that Hamid has less than a month to go as IGP. He was recalled to Bukit Aman in 2018 by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and was appointed IGP on May 4, 2019 for a two-year term. 

Hamid, born in 1958, is also 63 this year. On record, all his 11 predecessors had never served beyond the compulsory retirement age of 60.

I have read a bit of Hamid’s background and from what I can gather, if there is any IGP able to put ministers and politicians in their places, it is Abdul Hamid Bador, our 12th IGP.

Here’re my felicitations for a very “Happy Retirement”, sir. 

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.