Backbiting affecting police’s crime focus, say lawmakers
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — The ongoing backbiting among former senior police officers over alarming tales of power abuse and criminal links has distracted the force from its duties, say several lawmakers, warning that this could result in a rise in crime numbers.
They said instead of fighting crime, the country’s crime busters were now too busy defending themselves from the damning stories traded during recent heated exchanges between Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Datuk Ramli Yusuff.
“Partisan interests aside... I am concerned, really concerned. Once you are at the top and you act like this... what would you expect from your rank and file?
“Given this state of affairs, everyone would take liberties. The fight against crime has been forgotten and this is extremely regrettable,” Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider.
Ramli, a former Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director, has accused Musa of abusing his power when the latter was Inspector-General of Police to escape charges linking him to Johor’s underworld.
Musa, in turn, has claimed of interference by Cabinet ministers in police investigations, apart from denying his critic’s allegations.
Dzulkefly pointed out that when a former top cop rides roughshod over current and past police processes, it only lends credence to public fear over the force’s alleged inability to focus on keeping the country’s streets safe.
“I personally think we must address these concerns, bring those responsible to the book and properly look at the recommendations made by the [Dzaiddin] Royal Police Commission to improve the force,” he said.
The DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong and PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar voiced the same, sounding warning bells over the current state of matters in the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).
Liew pointed out that the 125 recommendations in the commission’s 2005 report had provided a clear road map for reform in the force, including stipulating that the police’s focus must be on fighting crime instead of playing politics.
He said that recent budget figures for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 indicate that the current government was more keen on using the police force to quell opposition dissent and play politics instead of keeping the streets safe.
“What we see today is a structure more geared towards playing politics than dealing with crime,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Liew added that police manpower has also been unevenly distributed in the force with more uniformed bodies taking up logistics work or desk jobs, which could be handled by civilians.
Nurul Izzah said there was a dire need for a re-deployment of bodies in the PDRM and a stringent look at the allegations of political intervention in police business.
“The ongoing dynamics within the police force reveal a deeper problem of political intervention, infighting and backbiting that is not only hurting the force but also compromising focus on overall security of the rakyat.
“As for the top cops duelling, it just confirms what we all know which is personal interest is above national interest,” she said.
Musa first came into the spotlight last month when he dropped a bombshell at a press conference, claiming that Cabinet ministers often interfere with key police decisions and investigations.
The country’s former number one watchman had singled out Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein at the time, and had also criticised his successor Tan Sri Ismail Omar as being a yes-man to the government.
But almost immediately, Ramli defended the police force and came out to say that Musa too had abused his powers during his tenure.
He claimed Musa, his former colleague and rival in the force, had colluded with the Attorney-General to escape from being arraigned in a 2006 criminal court case.
Ramli has always been a vocal critic of Musa and A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, both whom he blames for putting him in the dock on a corruption charge in 2007, which several mainstream media had sensationalised as the case of the “RM27 million cop”.
The verbal whiplashing between Musa and Ramli continued yesterday with the former suggesting yesterday that unnamed political figures were backing his critic, whom he said had been given the platform to criticise him and paint the PDRM in good light.
The PDRM has recently been taking a beating by the public and opposition lawmakers after a spate of robberies and assaults drew question marks over government statistics showing a significant drop in the country’s crime rate.
In July, Liew revealed that 86 per cent of the country’s crime busters are not fighting criminals but handling paperwork, “spying” activities and logistics, further fuelling allegations that the authorities have been massaging crime data to paint a good picture of the force.
“Barely 14 per cent of the uniformed police force is in crime-related departments,” he had said in a July statement, referring to the criminal investigation, narcotics and commercial crime investigation departments in the PDRM.
“Meanwhile, a whopping 86 per cent of police personnel belong to the non-crime-related sectors (like) management, internal security and public order, logistics, Special Branch and special task forces,” he added.
He noted that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) made up only eight per cent or 9,346 of the total 105,929 uniformed police force.
“This means six times as many policemen are tasked with non-crime related jobs, than those who are fighting crime. No wonder we feel unsafe,” he said.