PRESS STATEMENT, 17 July 2014, Kuala Lumpur – Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) lauds PEMANDU’s call for selected enforcement agencies to emulate Polis Di-Raja Malaysia (PDRM) / police force’s integrity initiatives whereby good ethics is a key thrust in performance evaluation and promotion. TI-M extends its hands to PEMANDU to work together to raise awareness and advocate integrity and corruption-free enforcement agencies in Malaysia. TI-M would also like to congratulate PEMANDU for being one of the world’s top 20 leading government innovation team as reported by Bloomberg Philantrophies & Nesta, UK innovation foundations.
The Malaysian Corruption Barometer 2014, a TI-M initiative, released in May 2014 showed that the police scored second among the top six institutions perceived to be most riddled by corruption. The police force has much to do to regain the trust of the Malaysian public. PEMANDU and the Government need to ensure that there are independent, well-resourced and effective enforcement agencies to prevent and redress corruption.
Corruption in the police force is not a new topic of discussion. It has been around since the beginning. To look only over 100 years back to the force’s inception, one can see many incidents of police looking past prohibitive violations for a payoff. Corruption applied to the police force entails falsifying police reports, accepting “duit kopi” or bribes to look the other way or other misconducts that violates the oath of protecting the people.
The recent incident whereby pictures and a video clip of a policeman tearing a RM20 note after a bribery attempt by a motorist, was circulated via blogs and social media sites may have been effective to suggest that bribery amongst police personnel is on the mend. On the other hand, this can also trigger the negative reaction that the ordinary policemen may refuse a small bribe but the force is still involved in the big stakes. Real change as well as effective communications in parallel are what the Malaysian needs with urgency if its reputation was to be saved.
TI-M is of the view that to prevent corruption is to have an ever-present independent commission looking over the shoulders of the PDRM until such time the Corruption Barometer indicates a significant improvement in corruption cases and public perception of the force. Among the fundamental changes that can be implemented immediately are its recruitment policies and procedures. It is imperative that new hires are tested and accepted for their integrity, more than their academic qualifications. TI-M believes that while ‘cleaning up’ process takes place within the force, new hires must be those with high integrity. Stricter screening methods are important too but only after the criteria is set high especially in the area of personality traits, with focus on integrity. Once hired, the PDRM should implement human resource policies to train officers in ethics and cultural awareness as well as encourage and reward ethics on the job.
In addition, the commendation programme is pivotal as proposed by the PDRM Federal Traffic Police SAC Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff stating that the police officer in the clip – a Corporal from Johor- would be commended prior to Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri.
Malaysians, as do all citizens in every country in the world, expect the police to act at all times with honesty and integrity. It is important for PEMANDU to introduce a range of measures to improve the integrity and transparency of the police force. Where police officers fall short of the high standards we expect of them, it is only right that stern internal disciplinary action be taken, including the full force of the laws of the country to punish and deter further acts of corruption by police officers. One of the challenging tasks faced by the administration of a police force is that of turning around a disreputable force and instilling a productive law enforcement environment that inspires confidence in both the law enforcement community and the public where it protects and serves.
To overcome this problem, the police force should establish a no-nonsense approach to cleaning up corruption within the force. They should set up an effective internal affairs investigative process that is governed by a set of internal controls to ensure investigations are handled in a fair and transparent manner. This unit has to act with grave urgency on actionable investigative findings. These processes will serve as a strong deterrent to corruption and result in renewed confidence in the force by the public.
Corrupt behavior in the police must be deterred and punished. Until corruption is totally eradicated from the police force, public perception of our men in blue will continue to undermine the many good work they have done to maintain the peace and harmony of our beloved Malaysia.
Dato’ Akhbar Satar
Transparency International Malaysia