KUALA LUMPUR: 2021 seemed to be a challenging year for the enforcement authorities as they continue to discharge their responsibilities amidst the cartel issue and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two enforcement agencies under the ministry are linked to the cartel, one of which is the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and the other, is the Immigration Department which was revealed by the Home Minister himself.
The revelation of the cartel in PDRM was raised by then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador in April, but Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin refuted the matter after an internal inquiry was conducted.
Abdul Hamid in his last media conference as Inspector-General of Police in April said there was a cartel in the police force, apart from attempting to topple him as he was vocal in exposing issues of misconduct, integrity, and corruption among police officers and personnel.
Last Nov 25, Hamzah was reported to have said that investigation on the matter was being continued by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission and that he would make known the outcome of the investigation when completed.
The issue subsided, but surfaced again last Dec 1 when Hamzah revealed that the ministry had received a report on the existence of cartel activities in the Immigration Department involving officers at various levels.
The cartel’s involvement was not only related to promotion in the Immigration Department as it was also said to have used immigration officers for its benefit.
As claimed by Hamzah, there were cartel members who were free to enter and exit the immigration department as well as members that sat at airports and national entry points.
The matter was being investigated and Malaysian Anti -Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki was reported to have said that the commission would look into whether the issue regarding the existence of cartels at various levels among immigration officers came under the MACC's jurisdiction.
The year 2021 also saw a change in the leadership of PDRM with the expiry of Abdul Hamid’s contract after helming Sang Saka Biru for two years from May 3, 2019. He was replaced by Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, whose tenure will end on Oct 3, 2023.
The country's security forces also face various challenges in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic which peaked in the middle of this year and being at the front line, their role includes assisting the government in enforcing travel restrictions and ensuring public compliance with standard operating procedures (SOP) to break the chain of the Covid-19 infection.
The security forces and enforcement agencies under the Home Ministry are also responsible for controlling the country's borders which were closed to control the spread of Covid-19.
Rain or shine, day and night, they are committed to keeping the people and the country safe from all threats, including attacks from the invisible ‘enemy’, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, by helping the government to ensure compliance with stipulated SOPs by the public.
On crime, this year also saw the police uncovering the Macau Scam syndicate allegedly linked to controversial Datuk Seri Nicky Liow Soon Hee.
The Macau scam syndicate, said to be active since 2014 and was involved in loan shark activities, non-existent investment schemes and fraudulent online sales, was exposed after police uncovered scam cases and mule bank accounts linked to Liow’s company, Winner Dynasty Group.
Thirty-four officers from enforcement agencies, including the police, who are believed to be in the syndicate’s payroll, have also been identified and are being investigated for their involvement.
Various items, cash and vehicles worth more than RM7.3 million and 68 people were detained to assist in the investigation of the case.
However, until now, Nicky Liow, the man identified as the mastermind of the organised crime, has yet to be traced.
Despite the challenges, various achievements were recorded by the enforcement agencies in 2021, including the seizure of various types of drugs worth RM327 million by PDRM and the arrest of the mastermind of the country's largest drug syndicate and four members of the gang, who were then charged at the Johor Bahru Magistrate's Court last January.
Reforms were also made by the Home Ministry and this included the establishment of the Criminal Investigation Unit on Deaths in Custody which will start operation on Jan 1 next year.
The unit, which will come under PDRM’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department, would focus on the aspect of criminal liability, duty of care and compliance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department received an award from the Ministry of Finance for being the first government agency to achieve 100% e-payment resulting in savings of RM2.4mil last year.
In a year already ravaged by the pandemic, a tragedy struck on May 24 when two light rail transit (LRT) trains collided in an underground tunnel in Kuala Lumpur, leaving hundreds of passengers injured.
The crash was the first involving the LRT since its operation 23 years ago.
Another tragedy occurred on Dec 2 involving a landslide on route FT 185, KM 27.10 Jalan Simpang Pulai-Blue Valley, Simpang Pulai, Ipoh, Perak, burying two vehicles. The driver of both vehicles were killed in the incident. - Bernama