The devolution of the IGP’s power

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“How strange," continued the king, with some asperity; "the police think that they have disposed of the whole matter when they say, 'A murder has been committed,' and especially so when they can add, 'And we are on the track of the guilty persons.”
― Alexandre Dumas, "The Count of Monte Cristo"

COMMENT | My apologies to Wan Saiful Wan Jan but I just had to answer the question he posed (and answered) in his piece "Should we decentralise the PDRM?" The piece was to highlight a study commissioned by think-tank Ideas titled "Reining in the IGP’s Power: Decentralisation as an option" by Nicholas Chan.

At this moment, the credibility of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) is at its lowest. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is the public face of all that is wrong with the state security apparatus. This is visible in either his reply to DAP’s Sim Chee Keong on the investigation of the mass graves of Wang Kelian and the status of the 12 police officers who were persons of interests in that investigation – that they were released "because there was no strong evidence to charge them for the offence" – or his telling Malaysians that the state security apparatus is "colour blind" (with regards to the Oktoberfest fiasco). But in my piece about his affection for politically-connected thugs, I say that Zahid “advocated a ‘shoot first’ policy for the police…in dealing with suspected gang members in the wake of a violent crime spree that has resulted in, according to him, Malays making up the majority of the victims”.

Nicholas Chan concludes his study with this – “This paper aims to posit a scenario of reform whereby the accountability of the IGP (inspector-general of police) is enhanced through having more structurally independent police chiefs in the country. The basis of this proposal stands on the premise that the IGP’s wide-ranging powers and interlocking relationship with the federal executive need to be dispersed, moderated, and restructured in a way that is more reflective of Malaysia’s federated system and rising demands for local democracy from its populace.”

While Wan Saiful (photo) is neutral in his claim that some politicise their criticisms about the overabundance of power the PDRM, which should not be in dispute, I would argue that there is ample evidence from the PDRM and the Umno state that the PDRM is biased towards the Umno establishment.

When it comes to the armed forces division of the state security apparatus for example, one politician even said that if he contested in a constituency with a military base, he would be sure to win with the postal votes. This, of course, takes into account the air force officers who blew the whistle on postal votes and how they were "used" by the establishment.

There is no point in being polite when advocating the decentralisation of police power, because anyone reading the Ideas study would come to the conclusion that the main reason why the power of the PDRM needs to be decentralised is because at present there is just too much room for abuse by interested parties and a near total lack of accountability...

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