Malaysia Dateline

Police accountability in Malaysia – will it only remain a pipe dream?

When Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhamad bestowed the title Royal to the Malayan Federations Police (currently known as the Royal Malaysia Force or Polis Diraja Malaysia), it was regarded as one of the most highly distinguished institutions on the land.

Serving as a crucial enforcer of the rule of law, the PDRM is duty-bound to safeguard Malaysia’s safety and security. Be that as it may, it goes without saying that the trust in the rule of law in a democracy such as Malaysia is profoundly entrenched in the conduct of, among others, the PDRM.

Lo and behold, in the past few weeks, Malaysians have been unfortunately bombarded with news of police misconduct, merciless treatments and other absurdities.

On April 26, 2021, a Kelantanese burger seller was issued by a police officer with a compound of RM 50,000 for breaching the MCO. A few days thereafter, there was a reported arrest with a number of seven police officers unnecessarily breaking the door of an unarmed graphic designer, Fahmi Reza, merely for creating a Spotify playlist entitled “This Is #DengkiKe” with the face of the Permaisuri Agong as a playlist cover.

In Tawau, a group of activists, including Mukmin Nantang were outrageously threatened by police officers with high compounds in a viral video clip simply for voicing out their struggles to provide food for their families in the midst of MCO imposed by the government.

The upshot of it all is, without a doubt, the death of A. Ganapathy. He was found dead with severe injuries on his legs as well at as his back and the front shoulder while in police custody leaving his two children for the rest of their lives.

While this sort of news is not the first time being heard by Malaysians, the saddening and horrific image of Ganapathy has led to public outrage on TikTok and Twitter with the hashtags such as #JusticeForGanapathy and #BrutalityinMalaysia remain trending for quite some time.

With the recent death of A. Ganathy, the names of other victims such as the lates Kugan Ananthan, Sugumar Chelladury, Karuna Nithi Palani Velu, Dharmandran Narayansamy are now being replayed again and again in social media platforms.

The latest mind-boggling episode is, of course, the open spat between the outgoing Inspector-General of Police-IGP and the current Home Minister.

Hamid Bardor’s revelations have shocked the entire nation. Inter alia, he revealed the existence of a cartel orchestrated by young police officers within the PDRM, the corrupt practices by the law makers and law enforcers, the alleged direct political interference from the current Minister of Home Affairs. In his last speech as the IGP, he has spesifically urged the MACC to take further actions by investigating the said allegation.

These series of events have greatly caused the loss of confidence and trust in our police force.

The greatness of Blue Perennial or ‘Sang Saka Biru’ which portrays the institution as one of pride and integrity has now become none other than a frivolous insignia.

On a more serious note, the burning outrage against PDRM has led to the calling of the long-awaited Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) ever since it was suggested in the report from Royal Commission of Inquiry back in 2005.

The IPCC which was about to come in being when the PH government was in power fortunately continued by the PN government. Unfortunately in its current form, it was regarded as a poor substitute to the one originally mooted by the PH government.

It was due to a myriad of reasons, including the provision of the Section 30(1)(c) of the bill which pushes for any report made against any officer will be brought before the attention of the SPP (Suruhanjaya Pasukan Polis) which was chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs himself.

The involvement of a politician-cum-minister in the commission nullifies the very reason of its existence which is supposed to act as an independent commission.

For the IPCMC or any commission for that matter , to duly perform its duties, the person who chairs the committee must be someone who is of a high integrity. Its independence should be free from any outside interference be it a minister or other entities

Nonetheless, for the commission to come into existence, it must first be tabled in Parliament.

Hence, should the government deadly serious in restoring the public confidence and trust in the PDRM, it must reconvene the Parliament fortwith and in turn start pursuing that cause.

Until then, we can only hope for miracles to happen for Malaysians to have trust in the PDRM again.