Clearing the path, laying the groundwork

Photo: AZMAN GHANI/The Star

AFTER almost two years as the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador’s tenure comes to an end tomorrow. He sat down with Sunday Star on Friday to reflect on leading the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), the challenges he faced and the achievements he notched up.

> Are you satisfied with your performance as the IGP, especially in ensuring that the PDRM is clean and trusted by the rakyat?

I was given 24 months as IGP. Ever since the beginning I aimed to complete my mission or, at the very least, pave the way for the future in 24 months. I knew it was impossible to achieve 100% of my target in such a short time as the PDRM is a very big organisation.

But I am very satisfied that I was able to spark a level of awareness among those in the PDRM of how corruption and abuse of power are filthy acts. I feel that there is a new consensus among the majority of police personnel and officers for elevating the level of integrity in the police force.

> Throughout your tenure as IGP, your transparency over the many police force members caught for corruption and abuse of power has been criticised. How do you respond?

I always take such matters positively. As the IGP, I have a responsibility towards the public and the men and women in the police force. My actions in exposing certain cases were done sincerely. I felt that society needs to know what is happening in the police force as the police is a part of society, in line with the PDRM motto “Polis dan Masyarakat Berpisah Tiada” (Police and Society are Inseparable).

I wanted the public to know what is going on with PDRM, not everything but matters that I shared with the media and society were important things. It is the responsibility of the police to give the best services to the public. If we fail, the public needs to know.

> Is there still a lot to do to clean up corruption and integrity issues or do you feel such problems are under control?

True, there is still a lot to do but, at the same time, the government should also strengthen the PDRM in terms of manpower. From the beginning, I saw that JIPS (the Integrity and Standards Compli-ance Department) faced constraints because of a lack of manpower. I have been requesting more staff for the department since 2019.

They are given heavy duties and tasks as investigating officers and as arresting officers that have to prepare investigation papers for prosecution. If the department is lacking in personnel, I fear many cases will not be investigated thoroughly.

> Do you feel that the police training syllabus should be amended to focus on integrity so that future members of the force have high integrity and avoid corruption?

Actually, the subject of integrity has been in the syllabus since the 1970s and I feel that it is sufficient.

The problems with integrity is connected to the weaknesses of individuals, those who lack religious education or have a history of unsavoury activities prior to joining the PDRM. Those with problematic records were able to pass the screening process because the previous system made it hard to check backgrounds of applicants. If they were previously arrested, there would be a record but if they were never caught, it means those with an unsavoury character could enter the police force.

> How do you deal with the problem of cops who have to mix with criminals to get intelligence and are exposed to corruption?

Actually, there is no problem as such personnel have an SOP that they must follow. For example, detectives who have to infiltrate a gang must have the proper documents, such as approval from their superiors, before starting their mission. Their activities while embedded within the gangs must be known or ordered by their superiors or handlers.

The way they infiltrate the gang should be recorded, not just through verbal reports. There must be documentation of how they mix with the gang, eventually joining it on instructions from superiors or after getting approval to do so.

However, the current practice among certain police personnel and officers mixing with criminal gangs is out of control. They mixed with the gangs on the pretext of gathering information but it is only based on their verbal reports, with no black and white.

To prevent personnel from being swept away by the gangs or losing control, they must apply officially in writing for such an operation, as is done in the Special Branch.

> Low salaries is the common excuse given by those detained for corruption. Do you feel the police are paid enough?

I have always believed that as the country’s main law enforcement agency, the PDRM should be given more in terms of salaries and allowances. This is because it is dangerous for someone to be given so much authority but not get paid on par with his or her responsibilities or duties. Thus, the tendency to abuse their power to get extra cash might occur.

I have to be sensitive about other agencies or departments concerning the issue of salary, as each has its own reasons (for salary increases) and each entity has equal importance.

However, I am more focused on getting the government to consider raising allowances for cops working in big cities. I deeply sympathise with lower-ranking personnel who have to pay high rents in big cities, especially those with families. The housing allowance is only RM300. In cities such as Kuala Lumpur, the rent might be RM750 so they have to pay an extra RM450 out of their own pockets for meagre lodgings.

If they look to rent cheaper accommodations, it might be far from their place of work and they would have to bear higher transportation costs. Recently, however, the government approved a transportation allowance for the police, similar to what the Armed Forces get. I hope it will ease some of the burden.

>The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have PDRM and the Armed Forces working closely together. What’s your view of the experience?

I am thankful and very grateful to Armed Forces chief Jeneral Tan Sri Affendi Buang. Not just because we are close friends but professionally, he is exceptional. He is always alert when it comes to the safety of the nation and is utterly professional in carrying out his duties.

Based on our close relationship, both personally and professionally, various joint operations and efforts were conducted, such as Ops Benteng.

To all members of the Armed Forces, be it the navy, army or air force, I would like to say a million thank yous on behalf of the PDRM.

> Is there anything you wanted to do but haven’t had the time to achieve?

Insyallah there is nothing extraordinary that has not been done but I will feel really disappointed if the mission to strengthen the level of integrity within the police force stops – I hope my successor will continue this honourable mission.

If this mission is successful, it will not only benefit the PDRM but the country and society as well. Police work will be much more efficient with no pressure to hide things from the public to preserve the force’s image, because that image will be better as the public’s perception of every member of the police force will be positive.

I really wish that the issue of integrity will be improved. I have cleared the path that was previously filled with weeds and bushes so I hope Datuk Seri Acryl Sani (Abdullah Sani) will continue to clear the path even further.

> Do you have a final message to all police personnel and officers nationwide?

I always pray to Allah for all members of the PDRM to remain in good health and be safe in carrying out their duties.

I urge all to remain on or return to the right path and give the best service to the people. If we help others, we will experience the benefits of such honourable actions.

Give the best service, don’t shun anyone, don’t abuse power, don’t use crude words in dealing with people, be fair and colour blind. If all of that can be done, then the PDRM will be in better standing in the public’s eyes. Practice these from young so that you can enjoy their blessings you are older.

> Lastly, do you have any regrets about your tenure?

I have no regrets but I hope all those in the police force remember that the police must be colour blind, fair to all, impartial and above politics. Efforts must be made to prevent any meddling from external parties.

I think I have done my part and I am happy with what I have done, and I have full confidence Acryl Sani will continue with the work of improving and elevating the PDRM even further.

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PDRM , IGP , outgoing , In the News , police , corruption , integrity


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