The past four months have certainly been a difficult ones
for the country's top cop.
Before the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar
Ibrahim from the government and Umno, no one questioned his tough policing methods. Some even said that was the best way to deal with rising crime rates, which many blamed on the influx of illegal
Abdul Rahim's problems began as the
political temperature went up. For the
first time, the police had to deal with
a situation they never experienced
The police force was likened to the
Mossad, the Israeli secret police, and described as thugs by Anwar and his
Abdul Rahim found himself called with
unprintable names in the Internet. To
some, the celebrated crime-buster had suddenly became a trigger-happy
Every reformasi supporter suddenly seemed to know of at least one Bukit Aman relative who confessed that
Anwar had been injected with HIV virus at the order of Abdul Rahim.
A careless remark, as a result of a
prodding and judgmental British
reporter, at a press conference
turned out to be another mistake.
He was seen as someone who became uptight.
As the chorus of criticisms became louder after Anwar turned up at the Sessions Court on Sept 29 with a black eye, Abdul Rahim decided to
maintain his silence.
That didn't help. He was rumoured to have had a stroke and that he was beaten by a Sultan.
Certainly no one, irrespective of
political inclination, would condone
the injuries inflicted on Anwar.
There have been doubts from the
beginning that it was not possible
for the police to investigate their
peers in this case, possibly
their superiors stemming from suspicion that senior officers
were implicated in the incident.
Certain quarters had called for an
independent inquiry, and Datuk Seri Dr
Mahathir Mohamad has taken the right
step by saying he would consider the
Some questions are still unanswered. Malaysians want to know who assaulted Anwar and whether the incident occurred while he was on the way to Bukit Aman or while being questioned. What were the circumstances of the incident? Were the police officers provoked?
Until investigations are completed and those responsible are taken to task, the doubts and criticisms will continue.
The police must try to appease a
discontented public, and restore
confidence in the force.
However, let us not be too quick to
blame the system. Not all police
officers are bad and it doesn't help
to demoralise them further.
We seem to ignore or forget, for
example, Abdul Rahim's role in disbanding the Al Arqam movement and rehabilitating its members.
It was his special ties with the Thai
police force which led to the arrest of
Al Arqam leader Asaari Mohamed.
Abdul Rahim also played a key role in
ending the 45-year struggle of the
Communist Party of Malaya.
It is all too easy to criticise without offering concrete solutions. Having a Royal Commission of Inquiry for
every incident in this country is hardly
The police force would not improve even with such investigations. We need to
upgrade our system of criminal justice.
The days of communist insurgency and secret societies are over. While we still cannot treat criminals with
kid's gloves, training and modern
facilities are vital in dealing with modern-day crimes.
Senior officers without the benefit of legal, economics, accountancy or
political science education should be
sent for such courses.
Malaysians, including the police force,
must understand that changes are taking
place and we have to deal with these
We must appreciate the fact that as
Malaysians become more educated, they will be more conscious of their legal and political rights. Such knowledge, even for the ordinary police
constable, is necessary to protect the
integrity of the system.
Clearer laws are needed to define our
We must take gradual steps to overhaul
our system by throwing out archaic laws
and preserving those relevant to our
At the same time, we must not forget
that for policing to be effective, it is necessary for policemen to have authority and firmness in dealing with criminals.
Rapists, robbers and murderers are not
angels, no matter how hard the liberals
try to convince us.
As in the case of a Filipino criminal who repeatedly raped his 10 year-old
stepdaughter, the NGOs have been so busy
defending his rights that they have
forgotten about the victim.
Everyone talks of the rights of the
individual without considering the
welfare and rights of the community.
In dealing with an emotional mob, a
certain degree of force has to be exerted
as a deterrent measure. High-handedness on innocent bystanders, however, must not be tolerated.
Members of the force are accountable to the public. As law enforcers, they must
understand the importance of
self-conduct and self-restraint.
There are rules which they must observe
under the most testing of
It is significant that Abdul Rahim has
taken responsibility for what happened,
even if it is perceived as belated. It
is an unselfish act which our political
leaders and top government officers should perhaps emulate from now.