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“If there are 500 dirty cops, there are 125,000 more good cops. I believe my men are good.”
– Abdul Hamid Bador, inspector-general of police
COMMENT | I have no idea if there are more “good” cops in the PDRM than bad ones. Then again it’s difficult defining police officers as “good” or “bad” in any country. You give a person a badge, gun and authority over people and you have a whole range of variables that makes definitions like “good” or “bad” meaningless.
In Malaysia, it is worse. I give credit to Abdul Hamid Bador (photo below), the current inspector-general of police (IGP), for making it clear that he understands the problem. His comment on cops severing ties with the criminal elements is better than what a former IGP said in telling his men not to enforce the law when people demanded he apologises for the tragic shooting of teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah.
I wrote about what I thought of the PDRM – in ‘old Malaysia’ – here. In that article, I discussed the hubris of the PDRM when it came to race relations and authority. We live in a country where the fingerprints of the political class are all over the state security apparatus. And by political class, I mean a race-based political class who believes that the state security apparatus is an extension of their racial and religious privileges.
“The police force has become a culture of its own succoured by religion, racialism and handouts, riddled with corruption and sharing a symbiotic relationship with the criminal underclass of Malaysian society and beholden to political masters who have always been engaged in protracted internal power struggles.”
So this idea that there a more “good” cops than “bad” ones is extremely simplistic. What we are dealing with here is a culture. A toxic culture enabled by a political class which uses the PDRM when it suits their purposes and the reward for such allegiance is protecting them from independent oversight. It is in this climate where flashpoint cases reveal that the “bad” cops – even if fewer in number – have more sway over the entire force than the cops who just want to carry out their duties and get home safely.
In old Malaysia, we had a top cop from the state of Terengganu claiming that Malays were not involved in the criminal gangs and the current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was then home minister, said in 2013, “What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are our Malays. Most of them are our race,” he said.
“I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first.”
All of which did not help Aminulrasyid, did it? In that case, a civil suit judgment declared that then Selangor top cop was “guilty of public misfeasance for stating in a press conference a day after the shooting that the police found a machete in the car driven by Aminulrasyid.
“(His statements) were meant to make right a wrong committed by one of their officers, that is the first defendant (Corporal Jenain Subi). (He) tried to say that they are justified in shooting the deceased because he is someone who has (some) criminal elements, as there was purportedly a parang found in the car boot. But there was no proof of the existence of the parang.”
So whenever I read – and maybe this applies to you too – that the cops have “discovered” weapons in a police shootout, my first instinct is to shrug and go, “Yeah, sure you did.” How many times have we read that the PDRM discovers weapons after a big shootout for which there are no witnesses, only dead bodies?
But forget about the race-baiting comments by politicians and by the various top cops from old Malaysia who still serve in ‘New Malaysia’. We are still dealing with an ethno- and religious-centric police culture which apes the rhetoric of the ethno- and religious-centric culture of the political class.
When Abdul Hamid goes on about people spreading Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ideology (whatever that is) this is, of course, the nonsense started by Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin (still want to build bridges with this man, DAP?), who claimed that he saw the “hate” in Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy’s eyes which reminded him of the hate of the LTTE.
The reality is that Islamic extremist terrorist organisations or their sympathisers have launched attacks in the country – the Movida bombing – and the state security apparatus has foiled attempts by such groups to destabilise the peace of this country. Can the same be said of the LTTE?
What of all those NGOs, political operatives and celebrities who support Islamic organisations deemed “terrorists” by the same countries who deemed the LTTE a terrorist organisation? Is the IGP cracking down on them too?
The duelling narratives in the recent Rawang shootings is something Malaysians are used to. The family of the deceased have made serious allegations against the PDRM. Prima facie it would seem that the PDRM is lying when it comes to the alleged criminal history of V Janarthanan and his stay in this country.
Furthermore, there appears to be “guilt by association” when it comes to G Thavaselvan whom the cops claim is a triad member, which I suppose means that the cops were justified in their shooting. Remember what Zahid said: “I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If (we) get the evidence, (we) shoot first.”
Who knows how this case will turn out? But we should know, right? We have seen these sort of cases before. Nothing will change. And when I mean nothing will change, I mean that police reform will be a low priority for this government because like the old government, “criminals” who run the system know they need the state security apparatus.
The official narrative will always be that good cops killed bad men.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.