POINT OF VIEW:BY HANIF OMAR
MY friends, don’t you think there’s something amiss in the Internal Security Ministry? Otherwise, why should the Deputy Internal Security Minister be arguing publicly with the police leadership over the rise in crime rate in certain places and for not filling up key command posts?
Indeed, he has not only a right but a duty to take up these issues with the IGP. However, he should have, at least in the first instance, quietly done so behind the scenes as two members of the same minister’s team.
What if he had elicited no reaction from the IGP to an issue that he had raised? Unthinkable! Although the IGP in law is answerable only to the minister, he should never countenance a non-response to a cog in the same wheel – that is what cooperation and the discharge of public functions are about.
The public sniping is already emboldening some senior police officers to take sides and is not helpful at all. I hope PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi calls up the two and find out what in heaven’s name is going on.
Regarding the non-filling of a key post, the IGP is right in one thing: there is never a case where a police command is vacant in the strict sense. The chain-of-command ensures this.
He is also right that an acting appointment for all practical purposes is as good as a confirmed appointment except that an officer can be appointed to act in a higher rank by the IGP only for six months. After that, the power passes back to the Police Force Commission.
Having said all that, I sense that the police are continuing to show a gradual improvement since the Royal Commission Report came out in early 2005 and received strong public support. There is less arrogance in the air and a more apparent putting of the shoulders to the wheel.
However, we still see the odd complaints in the papers about people being shunted from station to station – the most prominent recent case being that of a reporter who was assaulted by Mat Rempits in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur – or being ignored, as happened to a man in Taman Perling, Johor Baru, who reported to a patrol car crew that his sister and her boyfriend had phoned him to say they were being chased by suspicious people in another car.
That should surely be an omen of danger even to a dumb cop, but the crew just drove away, according to the complainant. In the event, the boyfriend was slashed by one of three criminals and made to watch them gang-rape his girlfriend.
A day later in the same south-west part of Johor, three men abducted a couple at a gas station, slashed the man and forced him to watch them gang-rape his girlfriend. Could they have been the same three criminals or do we have several such parang-wielding abductors and rapists scouring South Johor with impunity?
It is frightening: there are so many cruel and predatory animals out there in the guise of men – and not just in Johor. If caught, it would be interesting to know whether they were emboldened by drugs or alcohol; or by police inattentiveness, as evidenced by the complaint against the patrol car crew and the counter service officer who refused to attend to the reporter.
The respective OCPDs must track down their recalcitrant men, deal with them and tell us so. It will prove whether or not they have an effective command-and-control system. It is obvious that these bad apples are not at all inspired by their recent pay rise. They must be weeded out.
All OCPDs should return vigorously to the practice of diligently maintaining the Local Bad Character and Registered Bad Character dossiers again and cooperate to get all their men to recognise these characters and improve their intelligence-driven policing.
We have reached a stage where we are not easily satisfied by mere assurances that action will be taken. We want to know the results.
That should help in crime prevention and the return of a feeling of security among the people.
All the same, we must congratulate the Johor police for getting their act together after the event and successfully nabbing 14 persons on Friday who are somehow connected to at least one of the two rape cases and securing the car used in the commission of the offence. Hopefully, they will be dealt due justice speedily.
I have no time to go to the webblogs but last Thursday a friend told me about the contents of a recent blog that sent shivers up his spine. It is about the alleged extent of organised crime in gambling, loan-sharking, drugs and human trafficking in many states in the peninsula, and the authorities are allegedly ignoring the activities.
The contents are exceptionally defamatory and it won’t do for the maligned authorities to merely wish them away. Every day, more people will read them and say here is the evidence that the US State Department was right in placing us among countries with the worst human trafficking problems.
They will also believe that the extent of corruption is behind the problem. Our Foreign Minister should read them and make certain they are not true or otherwise take it up with the Cabinet.
The burgeoning corruption culture in our country has not really abated, according to some of my friends. One said: “It’s still business as usual. They don’t even bat an eye-lid; it’s one or two per cent, that’s their demand.”
One Datuk from whom I had not even solicited an opinion suddenly turned to me and said: “Nothing has changed.”
Wow, that’s the opposite of Heraclitus’ Panta rei (everything changes)!
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Corruption,” he said. “It costs a lot of money just to network with them and even then you are not yet certain of obtaining approval. To get the approval will cost a lot more. So, how can bumiputra businessmen with a small capital survive? Only the loaded who can throw their money around will get the approvals and become richer.”
So, my friends, which one of you said that corruption is a victimless crime?
Previous articles of Tun Hanif’s Point of View are available at thestar.com.my/columnists/