When one sleeps with an employee one not only breaches an important principle of ethical relationships but one becomes an interested party to the other's affairs and actions (by commission or omission) of the employee. From there, the spiral downwards grows more precipitous, more so when the employee becomes out of control.
This has been the relationship between UMNO and the Royal Malaysian Police. We have witnessed how previous IGPs could dare threaten a PM or act in recalcitrant fashion to the PM's instructions when these weren't to the Police liking.
The PM and and especially the Home Minister, both through complicit unethical relationships with the Police, have efffectively lost their powers to question, reprimand or sack the IGPs. They were instead forced to protect the IGPs.
This has also been the principal reason why the Police have never been properly investigated for unexplained deaths in police custody. In 2007 I posted the Most Dangerous Place in Malaysia when I mentioned:
Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob, the Chief Judge of Malaya, has expressed her deep concerns that 80 deaths in police custody occurred between January 2000 and December 2004 – that’s an average of 20 people dying per annum while in police custody, or almost a frightening 2 per month for 4 continuous years - but only 6 inquests, less than 10% of the deaths, were even held.
The Chief Judge has been troubled that in some instances, deaths occurred hours after detention. As an example, mechanic Alias Othman was detained at 10 pm on March 22 allegedly for causing a disturbance at a mosque in Bachok, Kelantan, but just a mere 5 hours later, he was very very dead. Siti Norma wants answers why so many people had died under such circumstances.
She demanded to know why police had seen it fit to decide that inquests were unnecessary in 22 cases of such deaths. ... In fact, the Criminal Procedure Code specifically makes it mandatory to have inquests into deaths under police custody.
Yet the IGP has not addressed this unacceptable omission, a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code. The IGP must be held responsible and accountable for his failure.
The IGP never was. See what I meant about sleeping with an employee?
Continuing with my previous post - Two years later we have a similar tragedy, the murder of A Kugan while in police custody.
In the midst of alleged police criminal act, with no less than the Attorney-General, Gani Patail classifying Kugan's death as murder, Malaysiakini reported in its Syed Hamid: Don't see criminals as heroes, cops as demons that the Home Minister had alluded to Kugan as a criminal.
Yes, Syed Hamid had the brazen cheek to contrast the late (murdered) Kugan as a criminal against the police (accused of causing his death) as heroes.
And trust the Home Minister not to understand that a man is innocent until proven guilty.
Wasn't his automatic defence of the police not unlike that of Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, the current Home Minister? It has been a very noticeable but unjustified trend by Police Ministers.
Continuing - De facto Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang was humongously incensed (and we share with him his outrage) at the shameless mindless insensible police minister in attempting to ameliorate the terrible circumstances leading to a death in police custody, which the normally recalcitrant AG had even been moved to officially classify as a murder.
In Malaysiakini Something wrong about Syed Hamid Lim blasted the Minister: "Malaysians, like people all over the world, do not regard criminals as heroes and the police as demons."
"But when a minister responsible for the police makes a shocking statement of this nature, it reflects that something has gone very wrong both with the police force and the home minister with regard to the most basic of government duties – to keep the people safe and to uphold law and order."
Then Lim said what I told a sweetie last night: "Even if Kugan was guilty of the crimes alleged, the police cannot take the law into its own hands and continue to pile up the shocking statistics of deaths in police custody."
Remember poor Francis Udayappan whom I blogged in Was Udayappan Beheaded After His Death? some two years ago?
He too died in police custody (notwithstanding police excuse that he had died while escaping).
On April 2008 I also blogged on Secret executions in Malaysia? where I commented:
… though I agree with the deputy IGP that technically there had been no secret executions, there were nonetheless killings in police custody.
What had occurred with some very very unfortunate people, particularly Indians, had been the suspected (maybe unintended but nonetheless terrible) manslaughter or even murder of several whilst they were brutalized in police custody.
And these horrendous alleged police killings are publicly known to be a frightening 80 people in a period of just over four years.
The RMP interrogators have a notoriety of beating up suspects severely and brutally, leading to a couple of deaths. That’s police draconian f*ups which would then be allegedly covered up by the police and their professional associates.
However these deaths in police custody are openly known and have been alleged by many as acts of police murders, which are yet to be satisfactorily resolved.
We most certainly need the IPCMC, but please, not a watered down version. Malaysiakini has reported on this issue several times over.
Well, Malaysia Insider reported in A mother shares Kugan family grief that Francis Udayappan’s mum, Sara Lily George attended Kugan’s funeral.
Francis Udayappan was only 23 when he died in police custody, whilst Ananthan Kugan was just a mere 22.
For Sara, it has been the most painful déjà vu to see yet another young man needlessly and criminally murdered in the Most Dangerous Place in Malaysia.
Thus it’s hardly surprising that Hishamuddin (and indeed, previous Home Ministers) would leap to the defence of the Police when reports critical of police conduct were raised, like the 17-fold increase in fatal police shooting since 2001.
Several other factors have contributed to this state of unhealthy relationship between UMNO Police Ministers and the Police, namely, the Asian attitude of ‘not breaking the rice bowls of orang kita’, and the increasing crime rates due to increasing police incompetence and unprofessionalism with a propensity to shoot recklessly (recent fatal examples: 14-year old Aminulrasyid and the Chinese noodles seller) and/or a casual callous and criminal attitude towards anyone considered a ‘suspect’.
Removing the last IGP, though far too long overdue, was nonetheless a reasonable start, but it’s not good enough. Firstly, no not the IPCMC yet, we need to purge the top echelon of the Police Force. Get rid of at least two top layers, with a promise or threat of more to go if the situation doesn’t improve. Then and only then, establish the IPCMC. Also establish an office of Police Ombudsmen in every state to allow for complaints against police to be heard at a venue independent of the authority.
However, I do not support the decentralization of the police force to state control. Haven’t we witnessed what have happened in Perak? If we have, how could we further enhance such questionable state misuse of the police? Places which have police under state control as in Australia and the USA have not seen the state police forces behave any better. In some cases, they’re likely to be more corrupt. In Australia, it's known that the federal police force is the least corrupt and the most professional.
What we need are a strong PM and a strong Home Minister to tame the ferocious beast in blue that has been allowed to escape the oversight of and control by the political masters, the people’s representative. We cannot condone, let alone promote, a pagar makan padi situation. That brilliant Malay saying in itself provides a picture of a very clear and present danger, a succinct and ominous warning, one which has already come true more than once.
Ironically, PMs Tunku and Razak’s strategy to prevent Malaysia from becoming a country ruled by a military junta, like most of its SE Asian neighbours, was by neutralising (or keeping in check) the power and threat of the Malaysian Armed Forces with a near equivalent power in the Police, in the formidable paramilitary Police Field Force and the once-inimitable Special Branch.
It’s ironical because today, for the PM and Home Minister to regain their control of what is basically a runaway police force, it may be necessary for the cabinet to use the armed forces, or threat of its use, to neutralize any recalcitrant or mutinous police reaction to the political attempt to regain rightful control and oversight.
Don’t imagine for one second that the police aren’t capable of mutinous intent because we had witnessed a previous IGP (not the last one) threatening the AAB-UMNO government that the police might not support the BN in the 12th election if the IPCMC was established, and even briefly flirted with PAS to intimidate UMNO.
The Police supporting UMNO in an election was outright and arrogant political declaration and a brazen violation of the police code of conduct (not that the IGP cared anyway), while flirting with another political party showed the IGP's recalcitrance and continued defiance.
At a lower level, we have also witnessed the last IGP threatening to let crime rates soar, and then at a subsequent occasion, to pull his men off the streets, when the police was criticised.
Alas, both IGPs were not sacked right there and then with the full force of the cabinet as they deserved. But then, how to when UMNO leaders were in bed with the police leaders?