Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan sekalian, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Yes, it hasn’t been long since he was elected, but our new Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Seri Hamid Bador, seems like a man on a mission, who’s not just announced that the PDRM needs a change (that’s happened many times before), but has actually put in place some serious changes to its structure.
Here are 5 new policies being introduced that show that our articulate IGP isn’t messing around.
1. Raising the salaries of lower-ranked police officers to eliminate corruption
In 2017, a survey by Transparency International-Malaysia found that 57% of Malaysians considered our police force to be the most prone to corruption and bribery.
“I will not tolerate this… There is no need for police to collect funds and hold fancy open house functions (referring to the raya holiday period). Especially when the funds collected are from unscrupulous sources.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
However, Hamid has a different kind of experience in the police force, having grown up in a police barracks with his police dad. He would know that some cops have to spend around 40% of their salary on loan repayments alone in order to stay afloat!
They earn about as much as your typical government servant, but as USM academic Dr. P. Sundramoorthy says, there is ‘presently a wide discrepancy between their (police officers’) wages and the authority given to them’.
Datuk Seri Hamid announced that not only are the salaries of lower-ranking police officers to be raised, their logistics and requirements are also to be prioritised. He cited police standards in several developed countries, where the job of police officer carries with it a stable income and prestige:
“I ask the government to reconsider, as this is already enjoyed by policemen in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and other developed countries… Only by raising the salaries will the risk of corruption be reduced and the temptation to commit crime (to earn money) can also be minimised.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
For context, the average base wage for an entry-level Sergeant in Malaysia is RM1,824-RM5,801/month, while in Singapore, the rank-equivalent receives $1,820-$2,640/month PLUS a sign-on bonus of $10,000-$30,000 (depending on education)!
I mean, just check out their TV ads:
*Ok, Singapore fangirl moment over*
Now just imagine if our own policemen and women had the same level of salary and respect accorded to them. If that were the case, it would be hard to imagine them taking bribes, ever.
2. Replacing Special Branch with an independent intelligence agency
Keep in mind here that Hamid used to head up Special Branch. If you read our previous article on Special Branch, you’ll know that these guys have a LOT of power, to the extent that there aren’t actually any legal provisions for their powers in Malaysia. And that’s a problem, according to the 2005 Dzaiddin Commission, who were tasked with evaluating the body:
“There appear to be no legal provisions dealing with the functions, powers and duties of the Special Branch… the Special Branch may be manipulated by a party in power for political purposes.” – 2005 Dzaiddin Commission
The fix? Believe it or not, Datuk Seri Hamid (who has a diploma in science policing), has actually suggested to do away with the Special Branch altogether (as it is currently), and to integrate it into an independent intelligence agency similar to the FBI.
“I would like it to be just like the FBI, where the focus is on major crimes, such as terrorism and espionage, among others. By being an independent body, that is, an agency out of the framework of the police, it can act swiftly and decisively.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
Our former British colonial masters, who introduced Special Branch to us in the first place, actually shut down their Special Branch and merged it with the Met Police’s Anti-Terrorist Branch to create a new Counter Terrorism Command.
This suggestion by Datuk Seri Hamid was lauded by the aforementioned Dr. P. Sundramoorthy, who called the move ‘a progressive, innovative idea’:
“If this proposal is accepted by the government, we need to make certain that this new agency is established as an independent federal law enforcement agency that can serve all in this nation without fear or favour.” – Dr. P. Sundramoorthy
However, Datuk Seri Hamid did say it was merely a suggestion, and that he would leave the final decision to the gomen, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.
3. Come down HARD on gangsterism
While police involvement in gangs isn’t exactly a new theme in any country, here in Malaysia it’s a bit more hush-hush. There have been instances of former cops being involved in gangsterism, but admittedly, these reports are few and far between.
So what does our IGP do to prevent cops from getting too kam cheng with the bad guys? Well, for starters, he’s actually banned all PDRM officers from patronising enterntainment and gaming outlets! Like Duh, but Datuk Seri Hamid says that such a directive has been around since 20 years ago, but has gradually fallen out of practice.
The reason for the ‘renewed’ ban? Apparently some police officers hold birthday parties at certain venues and are offered freebies by the owners of said establishments as birthday presents. Well, he’s had enough of that: under Datuk Seri Hamid’s command, they will now even be subject to urine and blood tests if reported to have visited these places!
And he’s dead serious about this issue; just look at his statement regarding vice in the police force:
“My advice to them (police officers involved in crime) is to immediately cut all connections with gambling and vice syndicates because I will not tolerate and will do my best to eliminate corruption inside the team. As long as they have not worn the orange shirt (lock-up attire) and handcuffed, it’s still not too late… Please remember the oath you took, swearing that you will uphold the law instead of getting involved in vice.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
If that usage of powerful imagery isn’t enough to make you reconsider your ties with criminal organisations, we don’t know what is.
4. Catching Jho Low (still haven’t found him ah?!)
Yeahhh, not exactly a new policy, but definitely still on the agenda. As long as he remains on the loose, the news will keep flowing, the jokes will keep coming, and the memes will keep… memeing.
However, our Tuan IGP has claimed, in friendly-but-also-not-so-friendly terms, that PDRM knows exactly where he is, and that they’re waiting to welcome him back with open arms (kinda):
“There is no way and nowhere they can hide. The sooner justice is delivered, the better for them… If they think they are innocent, prove it in Malaysian courts… I can assure them that the Royal Malaysia Police will not harm them… I encourage them to come back. Don’t waste our time, they cannot run forever.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
But the question remains: where the heck is he?!
Well, Datuk Seri Hamid stopped short of naming Jho Low’s location, keeping coy and cracking jokes instead (“He’s everywhere”, said Datuk Seri Hamid), but did say in no uncertain terms that PDRM definitely knows where he is.
“Just be patient. We’ll get them back.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
5. Creating an independent body that will police the police
We’ve previously covered this in an article (which y’all can view here!), but basically what this issue is all about is the IPCMC (short for ‘Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission’).
Ok, context time: the IPCMC was a brainchild of the aforementioned 2005 Dzaiddin Commission that, like its name suggests, would be an independent body that handles public complaints towards naughty cops.
However, it never saw the light of day because
they really needed a catchier acronym the polis themselves didn’t want it due to various reasons. So, in its place was a little something called the SCC (Special Complaints Commission), and then the EAIC (Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission). Both were simply discounted versions of the initial IPCMC idea, so understandably, Malaysians weren’t too happy with having to settle for second best.
Buuuut now, our new IGP is adamant on pushing the IPCMC as a check-and-balance to PDRM, even going so far as to say it is vital to his mission:
“We don’t want the police to be the master of this country… without any check and balance… I don’t want that kind of atmosphere to prevail during my tenure as the IGP.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
And responding to opposition to the IPCMC, Datuk Seri Hamid said that these fears were ‘unfounded’ and is based on ‘disinformation created by those with vested interests’:
“To the ones spreading misinformation, just stop it. Don’t be selfish. You had your time, and just ask yourselves: what did you do to improve the police image at that time? Were you part of the corrupt system?” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador
Our new IGP means well, but he’ll need all the help he can get
Here’s an interesting statistic: while 23.9% of bribery complaints received by MACC were regarding law enforcement personnel, this also means that 23.9% of Malaysians gave bribes too!
It’s clear that Datuk Seri Hamid has placed the utmost priority on fixing the image of PDRM, but it takes two to tango; we as Malaysian citizens also have a duty to uphold the law and respect its enforcers. His mantra of ‘respect, not fear’ has resonated well with many, including the National Patriots Association (PATRIOT), who are known to be outspoken on many current issues in Malaysia.
As for whether or not his vision of PDRM will be realised is yet to be seen, but enhancing the image of PDRM would be a good first step towards achieving that vision. As can be seen in his recent message to the men under his watch, Datuk Seri Hamid Bador will be expecting the best from himself, as well as his men:
“I will serve the people… I want my men to deliver. I don’t want (the people) to fear the police, I want them to respect the police.” – Datuk Seri Hamid Bador