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IPCMC is critical test of whether IGP Musa’s declaration that “Beginning today, I want criminals to fear the police, every second of their lives” is to be taken seriously or another empty rhetoric

Media Conference (2)        
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Johor Baru, Wednesday): After the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Monday announcement that the term of service of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had been extended, Musa told Bernama: "My aim is to clean up Sarawak and Johor of criminal elements. Beginning today, I want criminals to fear the police, every second of their lives.”

Musa also said: "I am giving a stern warning to policemen who are involved in taking bribes and misuse their powers.

"I don't want to see this particular group smearing the good name of the police"  

Bernama reported that the IGP's “strong words” were an indication that he would take the bull by its horns when dealing with the underworld, organised crime, illegal activities and corruption. 

I wish Musa the best wishes in his new declared intentions on the extension of his service as IGP although he must realize and understand why they have been met with considerable skepticism and cynicism by the suffering public. 

This is not the first time in the past 44 months that Musa, his predecessor former IGP Tan Sri Bakri Musa as well as the Prime Minister himself had declared war against crime and corruption which had all proved to be “just thunder but no rain”! 

The most recent occasion when Abdullah declared an “all-out war” on crime was only three months ago when the Prime Minister and Internal Security Minister spoke at the special assembly at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur in early April where he announced that there would be “no compromise” in wiping out criminals – more than eight years after Abdullah was first appointed Home Minister with direct responsibility over the police and more than three years as Prime Minister. Like previous occasions, there was nothing to show for this declaration. 

Will the latest declaration of “all-out war against crime” by the IGP go the way of previous such declarations – all talk and no walk? 

In my public congratulations to Musa on his appointment as IGP in September last year, I had posed the question uppermost for Malaysians – whether the new IGP could make any difference in the law-and-order situation in the country so that Malaysians can look forward to a safe and low-crime Malaysia. 

To be free from crime and the fear of crime are the most fundamental of all human rights of Malaysians which will also affect Malaysia as an investment centre, tourist destination and international educational hub for foreign students as well as the billion-ringgit Iskandar Development Region project. 

There can be no denial that overall the crime and law-and-order situation has deteriorated not only in the past 44 months but also during the 10-month tenure of Musa as IGP, to the extent that the Prime Minister had conceded that it is now “rampant crime” and not just “crime” that the police had to battle, when he said on Monday that the police “have been given the facilities to deal with rampant crime”. 

In fact, a few of the Commissioners have privately confided in me that the Royal Police Commission had been a total waste of time and effort as the crime situation has got worse and its recommendations to create an efficient, incorruptible, human rights-sensitive world-class police service had not been given serious consideration – apart from a few proposals like the 18% to 42% increase in police pay and doubling of the cost of living allowance. 

This is reflected by the skyrocketing crime index in the past three years, which had worsened from 156,315 cases in 2003 to 226,836 cases in 2006 – a sharp rise of 45.1% in the past three years when the police force had set the target of reducing the crime index by five per cent per year while the Royal Police Commission had proposed a minimum of 20% decrease in each category of crime within a period of 12 months. 

Violent crime had increased by 85.8% from 22,790 cases in 2003 to 42,343 cases in 2006, with rape cases registering the highest increase of 65.5 per cent – reaching an average of 6.7 women raped daily in 2006 compared to an average of four women raped daily in 2003.  In 2003, an average of 1.5 persons were murdered daily; but in 2006, this has increased to an average of 1.65 persons murdered daily. 

It must be further borne in mind that the crime index is actually a serious under-estimate of the gravity of the crime situation, as there is a high incidence where victims of crime do not lodge police reports as they lack confidence that any good would come out of it apart from incurring a lot of hassle and inconvenience. 

Under these circumstances, how is another declaration of an “all-out war” against crime by Musa going to be different from the long catalogue of previous ones? 

Musa said on Monday that he had “a dream to see the force above all in the world” where police counterparts of other countries have “confidence and respect” in Malaysia’s police. 

Musa can be assured of the full support of Parliament, the people and nation if he is serious about his commitment to have a dedicated and professional police force, which he had announced previously, as during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Malaysian police in March this year that the police was being “rebranded with a new vision and mission in line with the recommendations of the Royal Police Commission”.

The Royal Police Commission’s most important recommendation for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is the critical test of whether Musa’s declaration that “Beginning today, I want criminals to fear the police, every second of their lives” is to be taken  seriously or another empty rhetoric. 

If Musa comes out to officially endorse the IPCMC and to have it established as the first priority following the Prime Minister’s announcement of extension of his term as IGP, it will be a clear signal to criminals that the police is committed to an all-out war against them as they will have to face an incorruptible, efficient and professional police service with no weaknesses for criminals and crime syndicates to exploit. 

Is Musa prepared to publicly endorse the IPCMC  proposal and work with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Parliament so that the necessary legislation can be enacted as the first item of parliamentary business in the next meeting beginning on August 20, 2007  so that  the IPCMC can  be established before the end of the year?


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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