Damning letter: Can the big shots remain mum?

By Lim Kit Siang, Free Malaysia Today

Ex-top cop Mat Zain Ismail’s open letter is testimony that the criminal justice system had further deteriorated after 2005 Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission report.

When the 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 commission warned that “if the trend continues, there would be major social and economic consequences for Malaysia”. The 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% in eight years.

As a result, the commission proposed a sustained nationwide drive against crime “until crime levels have reached a point considered no longer alarming”, with an immediate target of “a minimum 20% decrease in crimes” in all categories of crime within the first 12 months after the report.

Instead of achieving the commission’s target of reducing the intolerably high incidence of crime of 156,455 cases in 2004 by 20% in 12 months (that is, 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.

Red ink in the report card

Recently, both Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had made great play about the successful NKRA on crime reduction, claiming that there has 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 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 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 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.

Mat Zain’s open letter

In this regard, I refer to the open letter by former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Mat Zain, which is powerful testimony that the criminal justice system had worsened after the 2005 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, 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.