Keep spotlight on key issues

  • Letters
  • Sunday, 26 Mar 2006

DID you read Pak Lah’s request to public servants asking them to be prudent in spending and not to waste public funds, which most papers carried on March 7?  

I am sure we all welcomed it but, more importantly, you and I should closely monitor this request for compliance and report any suspected transgressions to the Public Complaints Bureau of the Prime Minister’s Department, which is now online.  

If we get no satisfactory response from them, we should write to the press. As I said many times before, we must keep shining the light on perceived malpractices if we want action to be taken. 

The PCB can be contacted at Ibu Pejabat, Biro Pengaduan Awam, Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Aras 6, Blok B1, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62502 Putrajaya, tel: 03 8888 7777, fax: 03 8888 3748, e-mail: and website: 

This is not to say that all complaints in the press have received attention. Letters to the press by members of the public and strong commentaries by noted journalists do not appear to be heeded. On corruption, if the ACA is silent, its silence only destroys its credibility and the Government’s. 

When I was IGP, I made it a point to read three local newspapers daily for public complaints, particularly against the police. I made the police PRO do the same. I continued with the practice of Special Branch translators scouring the non-Malay language vernacular newspapers every morning and giving a summary of the articles and complaints of interest to me and to relevant officers, including those in other government departments.  

The Government’s Chief Secretary invited me to address his monthly meeting of secretaries-general of ministries on the state of national security and the latest public grouses. In that way, we were often on top of our problems and could work in concert. 

Following the Prime Minister’s advice for prudent spending, I hope that from now on we will not be seeing any more metal and plastic trees adorning our tropical landscape, or a perfectly good line of trees along roads being uprooted and replaced with a different species with each change of local council president or, worse still, have an endless parade of local councillors visiting foreign toilets to see how they are kept clean.  

Why can’t they tap the tens of thousands of Malaysian officials and tourists who have experienced all kinds of foreign and local toilets? Tap local expertise first! 

In the early 1980s when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ordered DBKL to green Kuala Lumpur, City Hall sent a group down to Singapore to learn from them. They were surprised because they themselves had learnt from our own Forest Research Institute of Malaysia!  

In that same message of Pak Lah’s, he also urged the need to eschew delays and corruption as they drive up the cost of doing business (and destroy Malaysia’s competitive edge). I am so glad that Pak Lah has consistently spoken out against corruption and weak work ethics.  

China’s economic emergence has placed tremendous pressure on our competitiveness. Now China is taking strong action against its corrupt officials. It will be more competitive unless we improve our business climate. In this respect, I sensed that the ACA has been more active of late although a friend insisted that nothing much has changed or will change until the ACA becomes pro-active. 

It is necessary to educate the people to abhor corruption just as it is necessary to educate people to eschew a life of crime. But, as the Hong Kong Independent Commission on Corruption’s publicity material says, education must be coupled with strong enforcement action (or it will be futile). 

We have so many laws that are at best only periodically or loosely enforced, or not at all. Maybe the problem is a superfluousity of enforcement agencies that are ill-trained and supervised. Some of us think that all that is necessary is to empower the under-employed without sufficiently enabling, monitoring, and remunerating them. This is simply asking for trouble. It means that we have not learnt a lesson from the Royal Commission on the Police!  

A case in point is the empowering and deployment of ill-trained Rela personnel to do law enforcement on their own. Many police officers too are not happy with this. 

The Attorney-General should call for an inquest into the deaths of five immigrants following a Rela raid at the Selayang market on Feb 11. The alleged post-mortem results fly in the face of purported eye-witness accounts. By what method did the pathologist determine that these people died two or three days before they were last seen alive? 

Do not take these deaths lightly. As far as I am concerned, there is no orang kosong. I find the term offensive and if used by government servants, nauseating. They all feel pain and hunger like any of us, have aspirations and loved ones somewhere who will now be waiting in vain for their return. 

This was not the only controversial action by Rela. There was the earlier “duck-walk” incident and, more recently, a raid on some immigrant workers in the vicinity of the Indian High Commission, which left a worker hospitalised with broken arms. More interesting is his claim that he was pushed down from a building’s upper storey. 

When the Prime Minister is trying to make the police more professional in their discharge of their duties, it does not make sense that ill-trained people should be deployed to do policing without being placed under the strict supervision of trained police officers. 

Support the police in reforms 

On a happy note I would like to congratulate the Inspector-General of Police, his deputy, all the dedicated officers, men and women in blue, and all the police civilian staff who marked the 199th anniversary of PDRM yesterday. I am only sorry that my earlier commitments here in KL and elsewhere prevented me from accepting the IGP’s invitations to the concomitant celebratory functions. 

PDRM had never been and will never be completely free of its bad apples because it recruits from the public, and the public has its fair share of bad apples. However, PDRM must weed them out vigorously and be seen to be doing so to keep its covenant with the people. The people will support the IGP and the deputy IGP in their current efforts to reform the police.  

March 7 newspapers also carried the declaration of the director-general of education that police involvement in curbing crime among students will be beefed up. Most newspapers that day played up the Education Ministry’s “national anti-bully campaign”.  

In recent times, some people have lamented the dearth of male teachers to handle male students in sports and games. Perhaps the phenomenon of lelaki lembut, which one vice-chancellor recently assured me is quite discernible, is partly due to this. 

Retired but united to help

A group of retired police and military senior officers have formed an NGO called Tangkas for short, co-chaired by me and Jen (R) Tan Sri Yaacob Zain, a former Chief of Armed Forces. 

Our principle aim is to keep alive the comradeship between former members of the police and military services first forged in 1936 when the 1st batallion of the Royal Malay Regiment was deployed to assist the police to recapture Batu Arang from a CPM commune, and utilise it for national stability. 

But we also want to be current and respond to the deputy prime minister’s recent call to retired military personnel to keep being useful, for the Malaysian lifespan has lengthened considerably.  

We are quite ready to discuss with the ministry of education some of its problems and see how we can help in maintaining school discipline, keep bad hats and criminals away from the vicinity of schools, and teach sports and games. 

We should be the natural choice for these tasks as we are mature, least likely to be deterred, well-equipped with the required skills and have a powerful comradeship to fall back on for mutual assistance. We may not be able to cover all schools but those close to our members’ homes should not be a problem to us. Our engagement will free the teachers to teach. 


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