Musa: I was upset by Sin Chew reporter’s detention

The ex-IGP claims Syed Hamid Albar ordered the ISA arrest.

Teoh El Sen, FMT

Former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan claims that he was against the controversial 2008 arrest of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng under the Internal Security Act.

He told FMT he was in hospital at the time and police made the arrest in obedience to the then home minister Syed Hamid Albar.

He said he scolded his deputy – current Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar – over the arrest and the latter wept and offered to resign.

Tan’s arrest in September 2008 came after the publication of her report on a speech made by the then Bukit Bendera Umno chief, Ahmad Ismail, in which he said the Chinese were squatters in the country and not deserving of equal rights.

Reacting to public outrage, Syed Hamid said Tan was arrested for her own protection. He said police were acting on information that her life was under threat. The statement drew ridicule from the public.

“The explanation sounded absurd to me,” Musa told FMT.

“At that time, I was in hospital, in IJN (National Heart Institute), having a bypass.”

He said he told Ismail, who was acting IGP, to investigate the case under the Sedition Act and not to use the ISA to arrest anyone.

He said he was upset at the turn of events and demanded an explanation from Ismail when he visited him at IJN.

“Then he started crying, saying that the minister gave the instructions. He told me he wanted to resign, saying things like ‘I want to resign, I don’t want to work anymore.’

“I said to him, ‘You shouldn’t be allowing yourself to be dictated to. I am in the hospital now, and you are Acting IGP.’ I told him ‘It’s stupid of you, wanting to resign. Next time, just don’t do it.’”

Asked if he tried to confront Syed Hamid, Musa said he could not because he was bedridden.

“But of course the girl was later released. But it was wrong. Using ISA didn’t make sense to me. If you think any seditious statement was made, then you have the law to investigate, right?”

During the controversy, Syed Hamid told the press the arrest was a police decision and that he had not interfered.

More recently, during the Umno annual general assembly, Syed Hamid denied Musa’s allegation that home ministers were among the politicians who regularly attempted to interfere with police investigations.

Asked to comment on this, Musa told FMT: “Well he can deny it, but Ismail told me at that time that he was directed.”

Drug raid

Giving another example of politicians throwing their weight around, Musa spoke of a drug said at a club in Johor in 2003, when he was serving in the state.

“A Johor ADUN [state assemblyman] shouted at my officers asking them to get out,” he said. “And then he called me, asking why the officers raided this place.

“He told me, ‘Do you know I am wakil rakyat so and so?’ I answered ‘So what? Why are you angry? Is it your place?’ He then said he was a frequent customer and asked why we were embarrassing people who wanted to enjoy themselves.

“I replied, ‘Okay, you can enjoy, but we are looking for drugs. So don’t disturb my officers.’

“The next day he came to my office, scolding me. I said, ‘You shouldn’t do this, you should respect the police.’”