THE nation was shocked to learn that a policeman and an Immi-gration Department officer arrested recently have criminal records. That people with a criminal past could be hired to work in enforcement divisions of the civil service is very worrying.
According to the Public Service Department’s (PSD) recruitment protocols, prospective hires have to undergo stringent background screening, including a criminal records check.
The fact that these two men were apparently cleared indicates a serious flaw in the government’s recruitment process.
How did they pass scrutiny? Was it simply a lack of diligence or something more sinister?
The situation will definitely erode public trust in the system and even in the integrity of our law enforcement – how could it not if people who have broken the law in the past can be hired to enforce the law?
Are these two incidents isolated cases? The fact that the men were arrested within three weeks and come from two different government agencies hint that perhaps they aren’t the only ones.
On Nov 24, it was reported that one of the 34 immigration officers nabbed for their involvement in an illegal immigration syndicate has an existing criminal record for hijacking and car theft.
According to news reports, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com-mission (MACC) found that the officer, who holds the relatively low grade of KP19, owned four luxury cars – a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Mustang, Audi and Range Rover.
The MACC investigation further alleges that the officer is also part of a hijacking and car theft syndicate led by a foreign worker agent.
This agent allegedly also worked with the officer’s colleagues to illegally renew social visit passes of workers who had not left the country as required and to allow blacklisted people with immigration offences to return home without being caught.
In the other case, one of the nine policemen guarding the Johor Baru police headquarters lock-up who were suspected of smuggling drugs into the detention centre was found to have a criminal record for gang robbery in 2017, according to Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
The PSD has to be transparent in addressing this issue and finding the flaw in its screening process.
It has to come clean if it wants to regain public confidence and reassure the rakyat that there are stringent measures in place when recruiting people into government service, especially in areas dealing with security and law enforcement.
Perhaps it would also be a good idea to re-examine the backgrounds of those employed to carry badges and weapons to enforce the law and guard our borders.
While the exercise could be costly and time-consuming, the PSD has no other choice but to close the loopholes that can allow those with a criminal history to be employed.
We cannot allow tainted officers to infiltrate the government and work from inside with criminals to rip off the system that is meant to protect the people and safeguard the nation.