The respected former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar, in congratulating new IGP Acryl Sani Abdullah on his appointment, advised him to ignore any minister who wants him to do what he is “legally bound not to do”.
“The police must bow down only to the law and not to any other person, albeit his own minister,” Hanif said.
This should not only apply to the police but to everyone in a position of power, especially those heading enforcement agencies.
Heads of the various departments and agencies can and should be friendly with the ministers overlooking their departments; they can be cordial with politicians and top businessmen, but when it comes to acting, they must follow the law and do their duty.
The public expects that they will not bend over backwards to please ministers or influential politicians or rich businessmen. Certainly the public does not expect them to take bribes from anyone or condone the taking or giving of bribes by anyone. If they do, they will be considered no better than the criminals they are sworn to pursue.
The fact is, those in high office – and this includes the prime minister, ministers, judges, the IGP and heads of government departments and agencies – should be above prejudices, partisanship and greed.
If, for instance, some half-baked politician requests or demands judges or the police act in such and such a way towards people of a certain religion or race because they are also of that religion or race, he should be told off immediately. Remaining silent is not an option. Complying, of course, is dereliction of duty.
If, for instance, some self-serving politician, even if he is a minister, requests or instructs that the application of someone from the opposition be rejected just because that person happens to be in the opposition, he should be told off immediately. Remaining silent is not an option. And complying is a dereliction of duty.
I know this is easier said than done, but those in positions of responsibility must get it politely across to pushy characters that they all have their duties and they all ultimately serve the people.
Remember, 1MDB would not have become a full-blown scandal if those who had been in positions of responsibility had acted in a very professional manner and had been above prejudices, partisanship or greed.
That is why Malaysians salute outgoing IGP Hamid Bador. He was above prejudices, partisanship and greed. He is seen as a principled man. What better gift for a retiring IGP?
Hamid tried to root out corruption from among his own personnel, even unearthing a cartel in the police force with links to criminals. He had the courage to reveal alleged political interference in the police force. As deputy special branch head, he pushed for an investigation into the 1MDB scandal in 2015. His “reward” came in the form of a transfer to the prime minister’s department but rather than be put in cold storage, he took optional retirement.
He returned as special branch chief when Pakatan Harapan won the last general election and was made IGP on May 4, 2019. He retired yesterday.
It is because they showed integrity that Malaysians today continue to remember well former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission heads Abu Kassim Mohamed and Mohd Shukri Abdull. Like Hamid, the duo stood up to personalities involved in 1MDB and were harassed.
Malaysians expect no less from new IGP Acryl Sani.
The public expects him to act without fear or favour because he is a servant of the people. The public pays his salary, just as the public pays the salaries of all ministers and civil servants – a fact that is often forgotten.
While the public expects him to act professionally and implement measures after thinking them through, it also expects him to instruct his officers to show common sense and compassion in carrying out their duties.
It’s an extremely difficult job and Acryl Sani has a tough time ahead. Apart from fighting crime and keeping order, he also has to deal with issues such as corruption within the force, a police cartel with links to criminals and political interference.
As a journalist, I’d like to appeal to him to give media freedom as much space as possible and not act on every report against those who are critical of the government, the police or other institutions. For instance, it’s normal for cartoonists to poke fun at institutions and public figures and unless their work is hate speech or really detrimental to the security of the nation, the police should take it with a sense of humour.
If someone feels he has been aggrieved, then let him sue the cartoonist or the person making the criticism. Let’s not use state funds – in effect, taxpayer money – to go after those who criticise with a view of bringing attention to a situation or a public agency’s incompetency.
I’m glad Acryl Sani said yesterday that integrity would be among his priorities as the new IGP. I don’t know him, but I believe he will rise above prejudices, partisanship and greed in performing his duties.
On our part, we should cooperate with the police in making this country trouble free. We should help him to help us.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.