On Aug 14, 2020, Datuk Mazlan Mansor bid farewell to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), calling time on an illustrious four-decade-long career that embodied the spirit of “One for all and all for one”. A few days before his official retirement, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (deputy IGP) spoke to Sunday Star about his life on the frontlines fighting crime and the legacy he is leaving behind.
> How do you feel about retiring?
It has been almost 41 years, I have seen it all. I am happy as I never expected to reach this far... it is a real bonus.
I always told my officers, don’t lobby for rank and positions, instead you should simply work hard. It is not about what the force can do for you, it is what you can do for the force.
I believe that if you work hard, blessings will come from the Almighty. Even if you don’t get a reward at that time, the blessings will fall to your children or grandchildren.
> You were promoted to deputy IGP only a few months after being appointed the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director in 2018. How did you feel at that time?
I thought I was going to retire at the CCID. I was quite content there. I was shocked when the directive came from the government to become (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador’s deputy. Of course, I accepted it and was ready to carry out the task entrusted to me.
Tan Sri Hamid is a fine character, I like his style. With our combined experience, we could ensure that the police force was on the right track, especially on the aspects of integrity and governance.
> Your late father, Tan Sri Mansor Mohd Noor, retired as the Internal Security and Public Order Department director. How do you think he would have felt about you retiring as the deputy IGP?
I thought I shouldn’t surpass him – and I think he would have given me a hard time if he was still alive that he retired as a director while I’ll be retiring as a DIGP! I’m sure he would have been proud nonetheless.
> What made you join the PDRM?
When I was born in Bukit Mertajam (Penang) in 1960, my late father was already a police officer so I was born into a police family. Growing up, I observed that my father was very disciplined in how he carried himself. I admired that, and how he gave moral support and held good values.
In those days, after I completed the MCE (now SPM) exam, the choices for me was to join ITM (Institut Teknologi Mara), the military or the police. My heart was always set on following in my father’s footsteps.
> Was your father supportive of your decision to join the force?
I made an agreement with him that I would not join the force until he retired. He did not want me to be treated differently from the other recruits and he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest. He retired on Aug 21, 1979, and I joined the force on Nov 4 that same year.
When I started training at Pulapol (Police Training Centre, Kuala Lumpur), nobody knew whose son I was. However, I was short of money one day and phoned my mother, asking to borrow some cash. My father came when I was undergoing physical training and passed the money to the commandant to pass to me, and word spread that someone was the son of a former director.
However, I never openly admitted to being that person as I wanted to be treated the same as everyone else.
> How did your father influence your life? What wisdom or teachings have you taken from him?
My father was very disciplined. He always reminded the family and the police force, “United we stand, divided we fall”, and “Always remember that you are the captain of your life’s journey”.
He was the family’s imam and would often lead the prayers and also give sermons. Sometimes my siblings and I would doze off and when he caught us, we would get a earful.
He was a sportsman too, and would wake us up every morning by doing his exercises loudly. The sound would reverberate all through the house – let’s just say we couldn’t remain in dreamland after that!
We were naturally alike. Like my father, I believe in good governance and integrity, thus I always fall back on the oath (under the second schedule of the Police Act) we swore when we accepted the offer to become a policeman. The last phrase is “... hendaklah bertugas dengan jujur dan ikhlas (must perform duties with honesty and sincerity)”. I signed that four decades ago.
Mind you, when you offer yourself to the police force and the force accepts you, you kena (must) accept wholeheartedly. The words “jujur and ikhlas” have wide definitions, including responsibility and integrity and so on, so I would tell my staff, if you don’t hold true to the oath, then you are in trouble.
> How does your career compare with your father’s?
It is difficult to compare as he faced different challenges in his day compared with the present because it was more about physical action then – during World War II, for example, he was part of Force 136 during the Japanese Occupation of then Malaya.
And during the communist insurgency (1968-1989), he was nearly killed in a shootout but luckily the bullet only grazed the side of his head as he had ducked at the right time. However, he was still bloodied and had a scar.
> Over almost 41 years on the force, you held many posts, including Bukit Aman CCID director, Selangor and Melaka police chief, Sarawak police commissioner, Bukit Aman deputy CID director, Selangor CID chief, Ipoh CID chief, Petaling Jaya OCPD, and spent time at the Bukit Aman CID Legal and Prosecution Division (D5). Can you tell us a little bit about them? Which ones were the most challenging?
Each of the posts had its own set of challenges.
When I came back from my law studies, I had a study loan to pay off, and money was hard to come by as I was only an Inspector. Luckily, my wife had a well-paying job and she supported me. It took a few years but I finally reached the rank of Asst Supt and I was assigned to the Bukit Aman D5. I served there for eight years under four CID directors.
Then in 1998 I was part of the investigation team that handled the abuse of power and sodomy case involving Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. At that time, it was the height of my career as the government and the IGP were involved. Not only that, the world was watching the case.
Tan Sri Musa Hassan was my immediate boss at that time and we investigated the case for quite some time. I had to burn the midnight oil often, leaving my family at home and even staying back in our ops room in Bukit Aman.
Despite the hectic schedule, my wife understood the sacrifices I had to make, so much so she would visit me at the office sometimes, just to show her support and spend time with me.
> Another high profile case you were involved in was the Al-Maunah militants incident in 2000 at Bukit Jenalik, Perak. Can you tell us about it?
I was out with my wife at a shopping mall on that Sunday night (July 2, 2000) when I heard on the radio there was an arms heist in Sauk (Perak). I was instructed to go to Grik and check. I rushed to Grik and quickly got to the scene of the crime to get the relevant information to pass to headquarters.
Early in the morning, all of a sudden then IGP Tan Sri Norian Mai wanted a briefing from the whole team. In the middle of the briefing, we received intelligence that two or three men dressed partially in military uniforms had been spotted in a nearby village. And villagers reported gunshots coming from Bukit Jenalik.
At the same time, the Kuala Kangsar (Perak) Special Branch chief sent a few men, including Kpl R. Sanghadevan, to check the Bukit Jenalik area. We met the village headman (in Sauk), who told of hearing gunshots – in fact, as I was in the midst of recording his statement, we heard gunshots ourselves. Three 4XW vehicles used by the suspects were seen, confirming their location.
We then received information that Kpl Sanghadevan had been captured. He was eventually killed along with Armed Forces Gerak Khas commando Truper Mathew Medan. If the IGP had not called for a briefing, we would have gone into the area and God knows what would have happened.
It really hit hard when we dug up the bodies of Kpl Sanghadevan and Trooper Mathew after the siege was over. It’s the case that has stuck with me all these years.
The investigation was also taxing as we had 29 suspects. We had to interrogate each one rigorously to get the details of the theft for the prosecution. We managed to do it, and the Attorney General agreed to charge them under Section 121 and 122 of the Penal Code for waging war against the state.
> You were also part of the team that investigated the disappearance of MAS flight MH370 on March 8, 2014. What was it like handling a case that grabbed global attention?
The task force was led by then CID director Comm Datuk Seri Hadi Ho Abdullah, and I was his deputy. A few days into the investigation, the Chinese authorities sent a team to observe – due to the language barrier, we would spend about three hours a day briefing them. The Chinese team asked all sorts of technical questions and we did our best to answer them.
In April 2014, Hadi Ho went on leave prior to his retirement. As he was only supposed to retire in June, I thought he would come back the following week. However, to my surprise, he told me he was going on Vacation Leave Prior to Retirement, so I was made acting Bukit Aman CID director and had to lead the task force. He said that he believed that I could do it.
> What was your experience in Sarawak like?
Then IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar sent me to Sarawak as the commissioner in 2016. It was a great experience as I had the chance to learn about the culture and the people there.
However, after a year, he (Khalid) informed me it was time to return to Peninsular Malaysia. I never asked where I would be sent during my career. Even Khalid asked me why I never asked. I told him, “It is your prerogative as IGP and I will go where you instruct me”.
> From Sarawak, you returned to urbanised Selangor where your stint included the Seafield Temple riot in 2018. Can you tell us about that?
It was my third stint at the contingent, having been Petaling Jaya OCPD and Selangor CID chief previously. I know Selangor issues very well. We have to think of the appropriate methods of policing different areas, thus we have urban and semi-urban policing.
The Seafield Temple incident was the height of my stint in Selangor. On the first night (Nov 26, 2018), we were very lucky to have diffused situation early. However, on the second night things went awry and a fireman (Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim) was killed.
It was a highly stressful period but I found solace by leaving work behind for a period of time and spending time with my family.
> You began your career in the “manual” era and lived through the digitalisation of the PDRM. What has that been like?
Our work has been made easier as it has been digitalised. Old ways or new, when people come to police station to lodge report, it must be handled properly.
The OCPD (Officer in Charge of Police District) is the guardian of all police reports and must ensure they are properly classified and that the complainant is kept informed and updated on the progress of the investigation.
With technology, everything is digitised, all reports are in the system so we can ensure we don't miss any. When I became deputy IGP, I instructed the director of the management department to ensure that all OCPDs will check all the reports.
That is why I always emphasise moving (taking action on) the investigation papers (IPs). My yardstick is, if there is no movement of an IP after three months, it is considered stagnant. After three months, the IP should be red flagged. Maybe something is wrong with the investigating officer? In such instances, some complainants could have waited years for developments on a case.
That is why the investigation must be moved along and we must ensure that we have exhausted all options. Then we can clear it for filing – but we must keep the complainant informed of the progress of the case.
> What legacy do you wish to leave behind?
I have always believed in three things: good governance, good delivery of service, and high integrity. For capacity building, we need both the human factor and a good system. Both elements must be good to ensure a good outcome. A good system will not get you anywhere if the human factor is below par.
For example, I would tell my men, “You raided gambling dens but why are there still many gambling machines at the police station? What happened to the case and why haven’t the suspects been charged yet?”
I am always stern with personnel, including officers. Don’t show me a “cosmetic” front. If you want to earn my respect, prove that you have taken all the necessary actions in the case, including ensuring suspects are prosecuted. If the suspects are detained under the Prevention of Crime Act, what happens after they are released?
I hope that the system currently in place in the PDRM is maintained and improved on.
> What are your plans after retirement?
I am looking forward to retirement so that I can spend more time with my family. My wife has been there for me, she is my strength, and now it is time for me be there for her and our daughter fully. I will be their new security officer and driver full time!
I was approved to perform the Haj earlier this year but I was not able to do so due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so I hope to do that once travel restrictions are lifted. I am also excited to travel the world and look at everything I have missed out on.
> And, finally, do you have any parting words for the men and women in blue?
Remain united and be sincere in your duties. United we stand, divided we will fall. Always remember, “One for all and all for one”. We are all comrades on the police force so we should always work for the team. Ask not what the force can do for you but what you can do for the force.