Ex-top cop Mat Zain’s Open Letter is testimony that criminal justice system had further deteriorated after 2005 Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission report

Lim Kit Siang

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When the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission submitted its final report in May 2005, it said that Malaysia’s reputation as a safe country was “seriously dented” by the “dramatic increase” in the incidence of crime in the past few years and that “Malaysians in general, the business sector and foreign investors grew increasingly concerned with the situation”.

The Royal Commission warned that “if the trend continues, there would be major social and economic consequences for Malaysia”.

The Royal Police Commission was referring to the “dramatic increase” in the crime index from 121,176 cases in 1997 to 156,455 cases in 2004, which registered an increase of 29 per cent in eight years.

As a result, the Royal Police Commission proposed a sustained nation-wide drive against crime “until crime levels have reached a point considered no longer alarming”, with an immediate target of “a minimum 20 per cent decrease in crimes” in all categories of crime within the first 12 months after the Report.

Instead of achieving the Police Royal Commission’s target of reducing the intolerably high incidence of crime of 156,455 cases in 2004 by 20 per cent in 12 months (i.e. 125,164 cases), the reverse took place.

In the seven years from 1997 to 2004, crime index increased by 29%, but in the four years from 2004 to 2008 crime index increased by 35.5% – breaking the 200,000 mark since 2007.

Recently, both the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had made great play about the successful NKRA on crime reduction, claiming that there have been a drastic drop in the crime rate particularly in street crime with improvement of the crime index since January this year.

However, up and down the country, ordinary Malaysians do not feel this dividend of fall of crime index in their daily lives as they do not feel comparatively safer in the streets, public places or privacy of their homes as compared to previous years.

In fact, the continued mushrooming of gated and guarded communities in the country is most eloquent proof of the failure of the police force in the country to discharge its most basic duty, to ensure that Malaysians, visitors, tourists and investors enjoy the two fundamental rights to be free from crime and the fear of crime.

In its 2005 Report, the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission made 125 recommendations to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service focused on three core functions – to keep crime low, to eradicate corruption and to uphold human rights.

Five years have passed. Have we progressed or regressed in the overall objective of the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission Report to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service capable of performing the three core functions to keep crime low, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights?

In my view, the police report card based on the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission Report is in red ink as there is regression instead of progress in all the three police core functions to keep crime low, eradicate corruption and uphold human rights.

But this is not only the view of Malaysians outside the police force but also  that of independent, dispassionate and objective former officers of the police force.

In this regard, I refer to the Open Letter by a former top cop, former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Mat Zain Ismail, published at Raja Petra Kamarudin’s portal, Malaysia-Today, two days ago on 12th October 2010 which is powerful testimony that the criminal justice system had worsened after the 2005 Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission Report.

Mat Zain was the police officer who headed the initial  investigation into the 1998  case of Anwar Ibrahim’s “black eye” assault  while in police custody in Bukit Aman and recommended that the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor be prosecuted for criminal assault against Anwar, but his recommendation was ignored until a Royal Commission of Inquiry was subsequently set up resulting Rahim being found guilty and sentenced to two months’ jail.

Mat Zain recounted in his Open Letter when referring to the investigation into Anwar “black-eye” assault case in 1998, that  he had to decide at the time whether to salvage the honour of PDRM or that of Rahim Noor and he decided with sadness to propose that Rahim Noor, whom he had the highest respect as a leader, a colleague and family friend, be prosecuted under Section 323 of the Penal  Code.

Mat Zain wrote the  Open Letter to Datin Kalsom Taib, wife and biographer of Datuk Shafee Yahaya, former head of the Anti-Corruption Agency, in response to questions asked in her book about police investigations into allegations against former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for abuse of power in June 1998 in ordering a halt to corruption investigations against Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman, head of Economic Planning Unit. Mat Zain was the officer in charge of investigations into  the allegations.

Mat Zain was also the officer responsible for the investigations into the four police reports lodged by Anwar from 9th July 1999 to 20th August 1999 when in Sungai Buloh prison on abuses of power and obstruction of the process of justice directed against Mahathir, the then Attorney-General the late Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, current Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail as well as reports of corruption and abuses of power against Tun Daim Zainuddin, Tan Sri  Rafidah Aziz, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik and the late Tan Sri Eric Chia.

Mat Zain revealed in his Open Letter that he had written in May this year to Tan Sri Ismail Omar, then Deputy IGP and to the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, for a review of the investigations into the false evidence produced against Anwar in the “black eye” assault case of 1998 “to protect the credibility, impartiality and image of the of PDRM which had been seriously affected since 2006”.

Mat Zain made the very serious allegation that former IGP Musa Hassan and Attorney-General Gani Patail had allowed fabricated evidence in the Anwar Ibrahim “black eye” assault case and must be held responsible for the current mess of the criminal justice system.

Mat Zain asked in the Open Letter:

“Apa sudah jadi dengan Sistem Keadilan Jenayah kita?….Siapa yang sepatutnya dipersalahkan? Siapa yang menyebabkan Sistem Keadilan Jenayah kita menjadi kucar kacir sehinggakan sesiapa juga boleh mempermain-mainkannya tanpa takut kepada sebarang tindakan dan hukuman undang-undang? Saya tidak teragak-agak untuk menyatakan bahawa keadaan ini berpunca daripada ‘precedent’ yang dibuat oleh Tan Sri Gani Patail dan Tan Sri Musa Hassan sendiri.”

Can Gani Patail, Musa Hassan or even the Home Minister Hishammuddin and  IGP Ismail keep mum on this most incriminating and devastating Open Letter by a former top cop?