Police, Parliament, judiciary, election and corruption
Exactly four years ago, on 29th December 2003, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the formation of a Royal Commission into the Police.This is the New Straits Times report of 30th December 2003 on Abdullah’s announcement in its report “A new image for police”:
PUTRAJAYA, Mon. - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today said a Royal Commission would study and recommend steps that could transform the police into a credible force.
He said the commission would also rectify the force's weaknesses and review work procedures besides coming up with recommendations which could enhance the confidence of the public.
Abdullah said the proposal would be submitted to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin for his consent.
He said the recommendations by the commission would help the police to discharge their duties more efficiently and operate in a more transparent and responsible manner.
Abdullah said the commission would also outline terms and conditions for recruitment and human resource development.
"We want to make the police force a unit which can be trusted. I hope the commission will help change the public's perception of the force."
Abdullah, who is also Home Minister, said the commission would also look into the welfare and family matters of police officers so that their morale and commitment would not be affected.
"The police must be well-versed in human rights when discharging their duties and dealing with the public. Police brutality, poor service, corruption and other negative traits must be eradicated," Abdullah said at the opening of a conference of police commissioners, state police chiefs, General Operations Force brigade commanders and commandants at the Putrajaya Convention Centre.
Four years today, Abdullah’s great promises of a Royal Police Commission to:
“transform the police into a credible force”;
“rectify the force’s weaknesses…to enhance the confidence of the public”;
ensure that the police “discharge their duties more efficiently and operate in a more transparent and responsible manner”;
change the public perception of the police to become “a unit which can be trusted” by being “well-versed in human rights when discharging their duties and dealing with the public”; and
where “police brutality, poor service, corruption and other negative traits must be eradicated";
have all proved to be empty ones, qualifying to be described as great breaches of the Prime Minister!
The Royal Police Commission resulted in its 125 recommendations to transform it into an efficient, incorruptible, accountable, professional world-class police service with the three core objectives to keep crime low, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights, with its most important recommendation the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
After four years, Malaysians have the right to expect an IPCMC “lion” with powerful teeth and claws to check and eradicate police misconduct, corruption and abuses of power but instead, a toothless and clawless Special Complaints Commission (SCC) mouse has been produced by the government in the form of the SCC Bill tabled in Parliament just before its adjournment in the recent 46-day budget meeting!
An independent, professional and incorruptible police force is not the only great pledge Abdullah had made in his “First 100 Days” which had been met with great breaches.
Just to give a quick snapshot of the other great pledges of Abdullah in his “First 100 Days” as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia with their equally great breaches:
(1) Pledge to create a First World Parliament, which is not an appendage of the Executive. At the beginning of the 11th Parliament, I had met the Prime Minister proposing a First-World Parliament which adopts the full committee system with a Parliamentary Select Committee to shadow each ministry or important portfolio.
So far, there had been a Parliamentary Select Committee on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code, which had completed its work resulting in consequential legislative action. There are also two other Select Committees, one on National Unity and Integration and the other on Integrity.
Both Select Committees are in danger of ending up as parliamentary scandals with no report or final report submitted to Parliament if general election is called by March.
There is another Parliamentary Select Committee which even MPs have forgotten – the Select Committee on Ethics for MPs, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak which was adopted by the Dewan Rakyat by way of a motion in May this year and which had its first meeting in June this year on its programme of action but went to sleep after that.
This is only one illustration of the lack of seriousness and political will to create a First-World Parliament.
(2) Restoration of the independence, integrity and quality of the judiciary. Without even going into the Lingam Tape scandal, the state of the judiciary is a parlous one, which is why the new Chief Justice, Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad had admitted the rot in the judicial system and promised a “house-cleaning” after his swearing-in earlier this month.
However, how can one man however well-meaning beat a system which is rotten? The 3-2 Federal Court decision on Thursday upholding the appointment of academician Dr. Badariah Sahamid confirms the view that Abdul Hamid is an “accidental Chief Justice” who will find it very uphill to carry the judicial system along with him in his short tenure of at most less than a year as the top judicial officer of the land.
The two dissenting judgments by Abdul Hamid and Datuk Zulkefli Ahdmad Makinuddin in the Badariah Sahamid case, that High Court judges and Judicial Commissioners must have at least 10 years’ experience as an advocate or a member of judicial and legal service before they can be appointed are solid judgments which are definitely more meritorious and weighty than the majority judgments by the three Federal Court judges, which make nonsense of the earlier Federal Court decision which struck down the appointment of the Industrial Court Chairman who did not have at least 10 years professional experience.
However, this has not saved the country from the extraordinary spectacle of the Chief Justice ending up in a dissenting minority in a bench of five, although his judgment are overwhelmingly regarded as the proper construction of the law.
(3) An independent Election Commission.
Malaysians are astounded by the super-swift extension of the tenure of Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman as Election Commission Chairman for another year!
To extend Rashid’s tenure as Election Commission Chairman from 65 to 66, the Constitution had to be amended, which the Dewan Rakyat passed on Dec. 11 under the protest of Opposition of MPs who staged a walkout at the violation of parliamentary privileges by the police who committed trespass of the parliamentary precincts on the same day to effect arrests of BERSIH activists demanding free, fair and clean elections.
Dewan Negara passed the Constitution Amendment Bill and adjourned on Dec. 24. December 25 was Christmas Day and a public holiday. Dec. 6 was a Wednesday and should be a normal Cabinet day, but Ministers were too much in a holiday mood to have their weekly Cabinet meeting.
If so, the Yang di Pertuan Agong who had just returned from haj in Mecca, should also be partaking in the holiday spirit of the Cabinet, but clearly this was not the case, as the Royal Assent and the gazetting of the Constitution Amendment Bill (the two final steps before a bill could become law) were both done on Dec. 26 so that Rashid could extend his tenure for another year on Thursday, 27th December 2007!
This must be one of the fastest cases of securing the Royal Assent and gazetting the law immediately after passage by the Senate.
It shows that if the Barisan Nasional wants to do so, it could get a law enacted in super-quick time unlike the years it could take to translate important legislative proposals into law.
But where the Barisan Nasional does not want to do anything, like ensuring a free, fair and clean election for the country, it will be impossible to move the government and the legislative process at all.
(4) Anti-Corruption pledge a total washout
Another great breach of a great pledge by Abdullah after four years is the anti-corruption campaign promised by the Prime Minister which is a total washout.
I call on the Prime Minister to tell Malaysians whether he has totally abandoned these great pledges he made on becoming Prime Minister four years ago or whether he is still serious about them despite the great breaches.
Lim Kit Siang