PETALING JAYA: The tenure of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar should not be extended, lawyers and a law expert said.
This is because, they claim, he lacks professionalism and has been found liable by the courts for the death in custody of inmates.
They said Khalid’s lack of professionalism was evident since the time when, as the chief police officer of Selangor, he handled the custodial death of car dealer A Kugan in 2009.
They also said extending the tenure of civil servants beyond the mandatory retirement age was not a good idea as it would deprive others of promotions.
They were responding to a report in The Malaysian Insight which quoted a Putrajaya source as saying the tenures of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Khalid were expected to be extended up to two years to ensure continuity as Barisan Nasional faces the 14th general election.
A retiring civil servant can remain in service on a contract basis for a period prescribed by Treasury regulations.
Khalid, the 10th IGP, who turns 60 on Sept 5, joined the force in 1976 as an inspector.
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said, in a number of court judgments, Khalid had been found liable for the death in custody of inmates, and also in a fatal shooting case.
He said the Court of Appeal had affirmed the findings by a High Court that Khalid was also liable for the tort of misfeasance in public office in holding him and his subordinates responsible for the death of Kugan.
Similarly, he said, Khalid was again implicated in the shooting of Aminulrasyid Amzah in 2010 that resulted in the government having to pay damages to family members of the teenager.
Even in this case, the court had found Khalid guilty of abusing his power as a public officer.
Paulsen said the detention of Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah last year under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act had left a bad taste as it was seen as police abusing their investigation powers.
He said police had, on a number of occasions, selectively used the Sedition Act and the Peaceful Assembly Act to investigate civil society and opposition leaders but a lot of latitude was given to those aligned to the government.
“This has resulted in Khalid failing to command the confidence of the public due to double standards practiced in investigations by his men,” he added.
Paulsen said the police also seemed clueless in their probe into the case of pastor Raymond Koh, who went missing on Feb 13.
“Yet, he had the audacity to tell the public to shut up for speculating on the possible reason for Koh’s disappearance,” said Paulsen, who is a lawyer.
He said Khalid could be supportive of the government but he must be seen as enforcing the law in a fair and objective manner.
Lawyer S N Nair said a top cop like Khalid was expected to act without fear or favour of the government of the day.
“He is answerable to the law and to the law alone,” said the former police officer, quoting a passage in a judgment delivered by Lord Denning on the independence required of the police.
He said this doctrine was applicable to the Malaysian police as the force was structured similarly to the British model.
“Having said this, Khalid has failed to meet the stature and exemplary professionalism of the 4th IGP, Hanif Omar, to deserve an extension,” he added.
Nevertheless, Nair said, it could not be denied that Khalid had done a good job in the fight against Islamic State and terrorism.
Law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said it was unfortunate that extending the service of some senior civil servants had become a norm in this country. This was started during the era of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The integrity of the public sector and civil servants are questioned when some are retained by politicians,” he said.
Aziz said this in turn would affect the morale of civil servants who might have to retire earlier and, therefore, miss opportunities for promotion.