Just reward for job well done?

By Terence Fernandez, The Sun

HOME MINISTER Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has made good his threat to transfer Immigration Department director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman. The minister had warned of Abdul Rahman and Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam’s impending transfers following the Aug 1 escape of 20 Afghanistan nationals from the KL International Airport Immigration Detention Centre.

Mahmood is still safe for now but Abdul Rahman has been moved to the ministry as secretary of immigration. It’s supposed to be a lateral move, but it sure sounds like a demotion.

But sincerely, did he warrant such harsh treatment, especially when Abdul Rahman had been working hard to weed out corruption in the department? He recently ordered the transfer of the Selangor chief following shenanigans at the Pulau Ketam jetty where money was exchanged for the free entry of foreigners without proper documents.

His suggestion to have Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers stationed at entry points to watch out for personnel on the take were rejected due to a staff shortage. He then suggested that they be stationed at “hot spots”, but that was also turned down.

The Immigration Department has its share of bad hats and rotten apples. Finally, you have an immigration chief who is acting to address the festering issues which he inherited from predecessors, who include a former chief who is facing corruption charges.

Why was someone who has been doing his job and tackling concerns which have been making news for years, if not decades, transferred? If he is being moved due to poor quality of service, perhaps it is justified. But then again, you cannot change decades-old mindsets in the two years that Abdul Rahman has been director-general. With another 18 months to go before retirement, he could have been allowed to finish what he started.

It’s odd that Abdul Rahman himself has become a casualty of the ongoing personnel transfers in the department.

The detention of seven immigration officers for human trafficking under the Internal Security Act on Wednesday also raises eyebrows. Shouldn’t they be charged? If more evidence is needed, one is sure a magistrate would extend remand orders.

This is where the highly-paid media consultants should advise the powers-that-be that their actions would only provide fuel to conspiracy theorists who would argue that Abdul Rahman is being removed for doing his job to weed out corruption.

Perhaps Abdul Rahman had foreseen his fate. After the Afghan detainees’ escape, he claimed responsibility – a rare trait among civil servants – and said he would accept being transferred.


TWO years ago theSun broke the story on the development of the Majidee Camp in Johor Baru and questioned if the last bastion of defence in the south was being compromised in the name of development. The response was that in this day and age we don’t need an army camp in the middle of the city, and with technology, army bases need not necessarily be close to the border.

Spending time in the war zone in Baghdad does not make me a defence expert. Hence I will have to leave the matter at that – and in the good hands of our generals and strategists. The commercial development has also been affected in a small way by a legal suit brought against the Johor government by a group of descendants of a previous ruler.

But it does worry me if the perceived commercialisation of Defence Ministry assets and the matters surrounding it may affect our ability to defend ourselves – from issues surrounding our submarine regarding its procurement to its inability to submerge; to jet engines that end up in South America; and the Sungai Besi Airbase and Cantonment Camp in Kuala Lumpur which are being developed.

The air base and camp developers, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera and 1Malaysia Development Berhad, are government-linked agencies, but profit and bottomline should be balanced with the nation’s interests.

If the administration feels that commercialisation is the way to go, it should follow the example of the United States and privatise army housing so that personnel can afford larger and better quality houses, rather than the barracks, or if they choose to live outside camp, low-cost flats which are all they can afford on a corporal’s salary.