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THE recent revelation by the inspector-general of police (IGP) alleging corruption among senior ranks of the force and the existence of a group within the force may have caused a storm among political circles but it certainly didn’t resonate with the public at large, as compared to the time before 2005 when then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi established a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) due to huge public dissatisfaction with the conduct of the police force, crime and corruption.
Why didn’t it resonate with the public at large this time when the revelation is now from the top cop himself?
Simple. The RCI in its findings in 2005 recommended the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Since then, from the publication of its findings to now, nothing was done for setting up of the IPCMC. Numerous reasons and excuses were cited for the failure to implement it.
A new government installed in May 2018 who in their campaign earlier had in their manifesto listed as Number 20 their promise to establish the IPCMC in the first term of their administration. Unfortunately, they were ousted before managing to complete a full term.
It is common knowledge that there is always mutual attraction between police authority and business influence, not only in our country but across almost every country in the world. Because of this attraction, the threat of corruption and abuse of power is always present in almost every police force in the world. Thus, the potential for bribery, abuse of power and influence peddling cannot ever be totally eliminated.
History tells us that the successful prosecution of corrupt cops is both rare and nearly always a long and drawn-out affair. And not surprisingly, to reduce police corruption, the recommendation commonly suggested in every country is the creation of an oversight over the police with a special focus on integrity, improving recruitment and training, holding all superiors responsible for the misbehavior of subordinates, and changing the organisation’s culture to tolerate misbehavior less.
Findings from surveys by international bodies always say how police corruption wastes resources, undermines security, makes a mockery of justice, slows economic development, and alienates populations from their governments.
The public in this country has always wanted to see vast improvements in the services by the police force and we have been fighting this lonely battle for years. The public is also equally aware that any true reform can only happen when elected politicians are willing to take on those who have consistently objected to reforms like the setting up of the IPCMC. The admission by the IGP seems to indicate a systemic pattern of venality and how deeply entangled the police force is with the vice economy in the country.
Subsequent to the admission, the IGP had also said that he saw no necessity to report the matter to the anti-corruption authority as he has the situation under control. In the face of these, one wonders the intention of the revelation. Was it to initiate reforms or there is a hidden objective to the revelation? And now, even the MACC came out and said the matter is an internal issue.