New Malaysia: Who’s next on the reform chopping block?

I had expected the new government to move or remove Inspector-General of Police Mohd Fuzi Harun, so I was not surprised to read that Fuzi would go as part of a major shake-up of the police force.

A Straits Times report said the sources who informed it of the revamp did not say why Fuzi would be replaced.

Well, it is not too difficult to guess. Over the past few years, many citizens have come to see the top police leadership as being too political, especially during the time of former IGP Khalid Abu Bakar. Fuzi, of course, has less to answer for than Khalid. It will be interesting to see if the new government will act against Khalid.

A major reason for the climate of fear that persisted in the nation prior to the May 9 general election, when a wave of popular support for reform put Pakatan Harapan in Putrajaya, was police action. While there was sympathy for the ordinary policemen and officers, urban Malaysians felt the police top brass were not acting professionally. Rights NGOs felt top policemen were sometimes acting almost like agents of former prime minister Najib Razak.

We need an IGP and senior officers who will stand up to politicians, including PH leaders if, in future, they initiate actions detrimental to democracy and the people’s interests – such as actions to stifle dissent or protect themselves against investigations or litigation. We also need safeguards so that police officers do not abuse their powers.

It is time for our police force to concentrate on the real criminals – not honest citizens who criticise leaders on Facebook or drop harmless balloons in shopping malls or draw cartoons and clown faces.

I do not expect the new government to stop with the police. I expect more heads to roll.

I am sure many netizens are wondering when heads will roll in the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. Too many law-abiding citizens whose only “crime” was to voice dissent or, out of ignorance of the laws, write something improper in the heat of the moment, were hounded by the MCMC during the premiership of Najib.

I hope the new Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo will restructure the MCMC so that it will never be used as a political tool but will exist to make netizens lives easier.

I think chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa is also on the way out. Whether he likes it or not, Ali is tainted because he was one of the main people working with Najib. The question is not whether he played a role in Najib’s decisions and actions but how large a role he played. The writing is on the wall.

The writing is also on the wall for Election Commission chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah who was, to many voters, the main villain of the 14th general election.

Politically aware Malaysians are furious over the actions of the EC – right from the way it carried out the redelineation exercise to the impediments thrown at the opposition during the campaign and the delay in announcing the results. Surely he has to go.

Then there are allegations that some military officers had campaigned for or made it easy for the Barisan Nasional to campaign at military camps during GE14. The National Patriots Association, a band of ex-servicemen and police officers, has called for a probe into these allegations, especially one about military intelligence facilities being used to help the BN.

Surely the top brass of the military will have to act on this as citizens trust the military to be above politics, and loyal only to king and country.

Some civil servants who are heads of departments or ministries are said to have openly campaigned for the BN or allowed their facilities or personnel to be used by the BN. Surely a lesson must be set for other civil servants so that they never allow any politician to abuse government facilities for political gain.

It is likely that some of those leading the ministries or who hold very senior positions are toadies. If so, the good doctor helming the nation should make incisions here and there and perhaps lop off a limb or two of the civil service behemoth to remove the gangrenous attitude that encourages corruption, power abuse, sycophantic servility, and downright incompetency.

Those who colluded with or aided the previous government to trample on citizens’ rights or get the nation into deep debts or abetted corrupt practices should not be spared. However, allowance must be made for those who may have been pressured into doing what they did as civil servants. They may not have planned it or gained from it or even known the end game but were merely executing what they had been instructed to do by their superiors.

I am also eagerly waiting to see how the saga involving the top two judges – Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin – plays out. It does not seem as if they are quitting, despite the numerous calls for them to do so.

Perhaps the two feel they have been rightfully appointed and, therefore, there is no need to resign, although the PH government believes their appointments are unconstitutional.

What will be the decision of the Federal Court which heard submissions on March 14 on the challenge against the appointments of Raus and Zulkifli by the Malaysian Bar and the Sarawak Advocates Association?

Will the new government be able to remove them?

Already the PH government has removed attorney-general Apandi Ali. And about 15 people have resigned from government posts and government-linked or Umno-linked companies.

Apandi was removed from office on June 4, after being asked to go on leave on May 14. Dzulkifli Ahmad, the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, reading the writing on the wall, tendered his resignation on May 14.

Apandi cleared Najib of any wrongdoing over the 1MDB allegations while Dzulkifli – who went after others – did not touch Najib.

Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the Treasury secretary-general, was relieved of his duties at the finance ministry on May 14 and his contract, due to expire on March 6, 2019, has been shortened to end on June 14.

Others who have since resigned include Bank Negara governor Muhammad Ibrahim, Felda chairman Shahrir Samad, Land and Public Transport Commission chairman Isa Samad, Lembaga Tabung Haji chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) chairman Shamsul Anuar Nasarah and Telekom Malaysia Bhd CEO Mohammed Shazalli Ramly.

Reports say Petronas chairman Sidek Hassan is expected to quit soon. Any guesses as to who else will go?

A Kathirasen is an executive editor at FMT.

The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.