Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is alarmed but not entirely shocked by the latest proclamation by the inspector general of police that the culture of police officials accepting bribes is widespread and stems from the lowest rank officers to the top leadership.
The fact that the highest-ranking police officer is the bearer of this bad news about the police force is a testament that all is not well within the institution and major reforms are required to restore the tattered reputation of the force.
Firstly, we would like to commend the inspector general for speaking frankly on such a matter despite coming under internal pressure. Yet his disclosure was not surprising as it only served to confirm the suspicions and validate the criticisms that civil society organisations had laid out against the force.
This also corroborates the findings of the “Global Corruption Barometer for Asia 2020” where the police were among the top three institutions that were most likely to be corrupt.
The revelation of the prevalence of corrupt practices is precisely why Suaram and other like-minded NGOs have persistently called for a truly independent police complaints and misconduct commission (IPCMC) that would hold the police accountable.
This commission would provide an independent body that would help investigate cases of police misconduct at every level, from the lowest officers to the very senior members of the police force. The toxic culture of asking for money and receiving bribes would be reduced and rooted out if the police are aware that their actions are being constantly monitored and subject to investigations by the independent commission.
One of the counter-arguments we often hear against the formation of such a commission is that the police themselves are more than capable of disciplining themselves. But it has been shown time and again that the police in Malaysia are prone to abuse their power if there are no other institutions to check on them.
And the inspector general’s other revelation that exists a cartel within the police force speaks to the point where the institution is suffering deep problems that requires the intervention of independent institutions like the IPCMC and a royal commission of inquiry to fully investigate his allegation.
The inspector general has also revealed that the cartel aimed to topple him because they wished to perpetuate the culture of threatening the public and continuing corrupt practices among the police.
Yet bizarrely, the inspector general maintains the situation is still under his control and these issues could be addressed internally and without resorting to lodging a report with the Police Force Commission.
The fact that the inspector general has chosen to air the police’s dirty laundry in public is proof that the misconduct within the police has escalated to a level that cannot be swept under the carpet.
Most importantly, the police force is an institution that belongs to all Malaysians, and the public have the right to information on one of the most powerful government institutions in this country.
If the inspector general honestly believes the police force belongs to the country and not any individuals, then he should all the more support a royal commission of inquiry where he will be given a chance to testify and come clean before the public regarding his allegations about the police.
Most of all, the power struggle within the police force, the recent roadblock incident and custodial rape in Sarawak have seriously damaged the reputation of the police and eroded public trust.
The police are incapable of disciplining themselves and the continued lack of an independent police commission like the IPCMC would only render the public losing even more confidence towards the police.
Suaram demands that the government support a royal commission of inquiry over the inspector general’s allegation, abandon the toothless Independent Police Conduct Commission Bill and propose an IPCMC bill that is independent of the police and government. – Suaram Facebook