On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Be fair and maintain support for the police

There were no further details on the subject but the
matter was even commented on by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun
Razak yesterday.

Some had pointed fingers at a retired Selangor officer and said he had been
bold enough to declare his assets to the authorities.

The allegations of graft, as contained in pages 278 to 287 of the report,
included officers wanting food from expensive hotels delivered to their rooms
on a regular basis to policemen returning arrested guest relations officers
from China to their station lock-ups with "love bites" on their necks after
they had been taken out.

The allegations also included police officers offering to switch urine samples
taken during raids for between RM200 and RM2,000. It was even alleged that
those who tested negative were asked to pay to avoid being framed as urine
samples could be switched easily.

One reader e-mailed her disgust after reading the report while a few senior
police officers expressed their unhappiness privately that the media had picked
up little bits of the report which made the force look bad instead of analysing
the entire context of the report, particularly its needs and shortage of
manpower and equipment.

For example, the commission said it was not convinced that granting salary
increases to policemen would reduce corruption but said it "believes that in
addition to examining critically their training and development needs, their
service conditions must be reviewed regularly to ensure those conditions
reflect fairly the special demands and nature of police service."

But the police as the most important enforcement agency needs to ensure that it
operates with the highest standard of professional integrity. It cannot expect
public support if its members cannot reject corrupt practices.

It must also be emphasised to Malaysians reading the report that some of the
allegations mentioned are just allegations – not substantiated by

Obviously, there are weaknesses in our system that need to be rectified. The
commission reported that "bribe givers who had come forward to complain to the
commission were unwilling to make police reports because by doing so they would
incriminate themselves and feared that action would be taken against

The commission said whistle blowers should be encouraged, as one of the
greatest barriers "is the reluctance or fear among subordinates to report
misconduct of their superiors and colleagues."

"In a clean police service, whistle blowers are regarded as heroes, but in a
corrupt service they are treated as traitors," it reported, adding that whistle
blowers should be recognised and rewarded.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar must be credited for
accepting the report in the right spirit, describing it as balanced. It was not
easy as the commission had not spared anyone or, as one analyst said, "did not
try to sugar coat any of its critical findings."

This is a chance for the police to reorganise and redirect itself. It will be a
massive exercise, no doubt, as it should even move police in administrative
duties to do more crime fighting work.

The unprecedented report has been released. The police force's weaknesses and
shortcomings have been outlined in an open and transparent manner. It is time
to move on, not dwell on the past.

Malaysians need the police. Our men, despite the criticism, have done a decent
job in ensuring our lives are safe and even critical Malaysians will agree that
they solve serious crime cases efficiently despite the handicaps.

In the interest of fairness, we must support the force as it is a vital and
indispensable institution of governance. It is important that the morale and spirit
of the police force must not be undermined as that would be detrimental to the
public and national interests.