These past few days, there have been a growing chorus of criticism from Sarawakians and Sabahans.
They were very upset over a report by national daily Sinar Harian quoting the Selangor deputy police chief on the transfer of nine police officers to Sarawak and Sabah.
On the surface, it seems that everything is ok – until we learn that these officers, were being investigated for an extortion case in Selangor.
Understandably, this drew the ire of the locals whose sentiments are best summed up into six words: We are not a dumping ground!
Sarawak and Sabah leaders alike did not mince their words in criticising the transfer decision, describing it both as irresponsible and insensitive.
Deputy Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Liwan Lagang hit the nail on the head when he said these officers should have been dismissed instead of being transferred to Sabah and Sarawak.
“They should have been dismissed right away as they have been proven to be a liability to the force.
“Since those nine policemen have been probed for their involvement in blackmailing and extortion, why only transfer them? Is extortion not strong enough a reason to dismiss them right away?” he asked.
Similarly, Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring Deputy Minister Datuk Gerawat Gala said the rogue police officers must be suspended instead of being transferred.
“Transferring them to Sabah and Sarawak is not solving the problem but transferring the problem from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak, which is unacceptable to Sarawakians and Sabahans.”
Both their sentiments were echoed by Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA), whose chairman Datuk Dr John Lau feared the worst if these officers get transferred to the rural areas in Sarawak.
“We hope these problematic rank and file men will not be posted to remote rural towns. Otherwise, we cannot imagine what these men will do there.”
And rightly so, there is less oversight in rural areas, it is a disaster waiting to happen – being grounds for more rampant abuses of power.
Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth chief Miro Simuh in stressing this, said social issues involving drug abuse, gambling and many others are not only increasing in Bau – his own area – but also in the state.
“Appropriate punishment should be given, instead of just taking the easy way out.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan lambasted the authorities, describing the transfer as unacceptable.
“This must be rectified immediately. Sabah already faces numerous security threats, such as piracy, kidnappings, and the presence of Islamic State-linked terrorist group members, Abu Sayyaf.
“And yet, despite all of these problems, the police thought it was a good idea to place undisciplined and problematic policemen here to ‘protect’ our security.
“This is simply wrong and unacceptable, even if it is part of their disciplinary procedures,” he said.
The message is loud and clear – even if this is the standard operating procedures in dealing with problematic officers – it has to change.
What I’m seeing is that this is exactly the Malaya first mentality of old in the eighties, nineties and early 2000s.
Apparently, Sarawak and Sabah are the places to banish ills of the society in Malaya as well as problematic Malayan civil servants. It is the “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thinking.
This is compounded with the apparent fears of Malayans when ordered to work in Sarawak and Sabah. Their common misconception of location Borneo states being in shambles too has affected this.
Most would dread every single day working here and would put in a request to be transferred back to their homeland soonest.
But Sarawak and Sabah are not in shambles – both states are very modern and developed (for the most part). And no, we don’t still live on trees and travel by rowing our sampan.
The Malaya first mentality engrained in the civil service culture has to go.
Malaya has to recognise that the state and people of both Sarawak and Sabah are not second class.
The phrase “duduk sama rendah, berdiri sama tinggi” (on equal footing) comes to mind. Some amount of education is still needed for all to understand this.
So, look at yourself in the mirror and while you are at it, keep your bad cops away from Sarawak and Sabah, we only want the honest ones.