Brief history of the Royal Malaysia Police

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Brief history of the Royal Malaysia Police

The Straits Settlements 

- The beginnings of a modern police force can be traced back to 1807 with the introduction of the “Charter of Justice” in Penang, which cleared the laws enforced by police. A second charter was issued in 1825.  

- Police Force Ordinance enacted in 1871 and came into force the following year until 1942. The Ordinance placed the police forces in all three Straits Settlements (Penang, Singapore and Malacca) under one straits Settlement Police command in Singapore 

Federated Malay States 

- The police forces in Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Pahang formed between 1875 and 1888. 

- The four forces merged as the Federated Malay States (FMS) Police Force in July 1896. It was led by a Commissioner of Police and had its headquarters at Bluff Road Hill, the present day Bukit Aman. 

- The Police Force Enactment came into force in 1924 and gave greater clarity to police’s role, functions and responsibilities. 

- * The standard blue uniform was introduced for all states with identity of contingents distinguished by type of button and badges 

The Unfederated Malay States 

- The police force in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu were taken over from Malay and Siamese leadership by the British to help modernise and develop it to resemble the force in FMS. 

- However, the police force in Perlis was headed by Malay police chief without British stewardship 

Sabah and Sarawak 

- Sarawak had the Sarawak Constabulary while Sabah had the North Borneo Armed Constabulary which was known as North Borneo Police Force after Japanese Occupation. 

- Both forces were absorbed into the Royal Malaysia Force when Malaysia was formed in 1963. 

Japanese Occupation and Aftermath 

- The local police force became the arm of the Japanese military administration during the occupation and were also used against Chinese Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army. 

- After the occupation, the forces were given refresher course and merged under one umbrella called the Civil Affairs Police Force in September 1945. 


- Police force underwent Malayanisation in the 1950s when Malayans replaced British in top posts including the Inspector-General of Police. 

The Communist Threat and Independence 

- The police force grew seven-fold to 161,281 personnel at the height of Emergency in 1950 where the Communist Party of Malaya wanted to take over the country. They lost 5,554 men but killed 11,222 communist terrorists. 

- Important divisions were set up under the Federation of Police including the Special Branch, the Flying Squad or Jungle Companies, VAT 69, Senoi Praaq, comprising Orang Aslis, Police Volunteer Corps and Auxiliary Women. 

- Five departments were established to improve organisational structure including for administration, finances, Criminal Investigation Department and Special Branch 

- Service-oriented operations themed “Operasi Bersedia Berkhidmat” was launched on Dec 15, 1952. 

- Became known as the Royal Federation of Malaya Police on July 24, 1958. 

Formation of the Royal Malaysia Police 

- Became known as the Royal Malaysia Police following the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Singapore pulled out when nit left the Federation in 1965. 

Confrontation and the May 13 incident 

- Police and military role was coordinated at various levels by the “war executive committees” and “operations executive committees” during the Confrontation (Konfrontasi) launched by Indonesia against Malaysia in 1963-1966 and during the May 13 incident. 

Evolution of PDRM’s Organisation and Operational Components 

- Police Act 1967 came into force that year, replacing the Act of 1952. 

- By 1967, there were 33,785 personnel of which 2,586 were civilian staff.  

- By 1984, it grew to 87,409 and stood at 100,632 last years, where 92,927 were uniformed staff and rest were civilians. 

- There are currently seven departments under the Inspector General of Police: Management; Criminal Investigation; Internal Security and Public Order; Special branch; Narcotics; Logistics and Commercial Crimes Division. 

- The major operational components of the police force include the General Operations Force (PGA), the Marine Police, The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), the Special Operations Force (PGK), the Traffic Police, the Police Air Wing and the Narcotics Department. 

- Others are the Criminal Investigation Department; the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department; the Special Branch; the Women Police and the Police Volunteer Reserve. 

PDRM into the 21st Century 

- The force has been called upon to reinvent itself in order to respond better to the rapidly changing environment which include change in lifestyle and urbanisation, advances in technology, rise in public expectations and demands for transparency. 

- The key challenge: To regain the good image it enjoyed during the 1960s to 1980s as their image has been seriously undermined in the last decade due to mounting public perceptions of corruption and power abuse in the force. 


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