The plan to raise the number of police personnel by 60,000 could bloat the ranks of those who revel in “hunting” down undocumented migrants, warns Angeline Loh.
The front-page headline of theSun on Thursday, 5 April 2007 read “PM admits weaknesses”. At first glance it looked encouraging to see that the head of government had finally decided to take the bull by the horns, scrutinising the prosecution service in this country.
It was good that the more pressing problems of the prosecution service were highlighted and neatly laid out with pertinent solutions for their resolution. After reading the article, there still seemed to be something amiss with the whole handsome plan.
Whilst the fact of better investigation, litigation and prosecution techniques is indisputably essential, the Prime Minister’s boast that conviction and punishment had been secured in 74.1 per cent of cases tried in the High Court last year was rather disturbing.
The implication seemed to be that securing convictions and punishment was “the be all and end all” of the prosecution service, with Justice simply shunted aside into a dark corner. This is worrying!
A report on Friday, 6 April, front-paged by the same daily read, “All-out War on Crime, terror”. The PM now urged the police to do a more effective job with similar aids for upgrading investigation methods. With heart-rending patriotic melodrama, our PM appealed to the Royal Malaysian Police to “battle them as aggressively as the police personnel who served in the RMP during the communist era had fought to keep the peace and harmony of the country. There was no compromise by these policeman.”
Whiles we are grateful for past blessings and for the PM’s wisdom in initiating an increase of 60,000 personnel in the professional police force, the question remaining unanswered is whether this would mean the reduction or abolition of Rela.
These amateur, non-professionals, who have attracted much public, NGO and even police criticism, far out-number the existing police force. (See Aliran Monthly, Vol 26:9.) The Bar Council’s recent call for the abolition of Rela due to their unprofessional, heavy-handed methods and contra-human rights practices has however hit a wall of official administrative silence.
Increasing police numbers may not resolve the problem of human rights abuse by Rela or any other ‘pet vigilante’ force of the Home Affairs Ministry. It would only serve to bloat the number of ‘hunters’ to scrub out what the government perceives as the current threat to national security – migrants and refugees.
The mainstream media appeared to have already launched an offensive against foreigners by highlighting crimes allegedly committed by them. This move came in the wake of the IGP’s proposal to confine migrant workers to their company-provided accommodation and have their movements monitored by employers.
With all this ‘heavy artillery’ security measures and bounties offered for the capture of any undocumented migrant, it appears that the state of security in the country has not improved in any way. So will the increase in the number of police personnel alone do anything to make this country a safer place?
As long as proper systems to manage immigration and refugee problems are not put in place – apart from political cooperation between Asean member states to resolve their home problems in a democratic manner – and the observance of international human rights laws applied to all UNO member states remains ignored, the situation will remain unchanged.
All in all, the biggest security threat to Malaysia is corruption – in all its guises and at all levels within the government hierarchy – which is contaminating our society.
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