Meritocracy, courage and integrity: The way forward for Malaysian police

By Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar


TODAY in Malaysia, two positions are seen as highly watched – the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Both positions come with high responsibilities and expectations, are stressful and among the toughest jobs in the public service.

Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani was officially appointed as the new IGP on May 5, 2021. He became the 13th IGP, taking over the post from Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, who served since May 2019.

Our police force is tasked with maintaining law and order, protecting our lives and property. They put their lives on the line in performing their duties to serve the public. At times it seems like a thankless job as the plaudits are few and far between for the police personnel who tirelessly perform their duties.

Recently the previous IGP Hamid Bador had cast doubt on the role and independence of the Police Force Commission (SPP) which is chaired by the Home Minister. He claimed that the SPP and Home Minister had no authority to run the police force, and it is the responsibility of the IGP to appoint senior positions within the police force.

Former IGP Tun Hanif Omar also weighed in on this matter, stating that the Police Act gives the IGP the sole power to “command and control” the force.

The future of the police force will be dependent on the strategies the new IGP adopts. For a start, he has identified three focus areas to enhance PDRM, namely to strengthen internal integrity, strengthen its service delivery system and support efforts to maintain the well-being of society.

It is refreshing to note that integrity will receive the new IGP’s attention. Based on the present challenges though, he faces a tough job in enhancing integrity as a culture in the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

To gain public trust, Acryl Sani should continue the legacy of the previous IGP to clean up the force of corrupt practices and aggressively seek to get rid of rouge elements that abuse their authority and tarnish the department’s reputation. The police force must confront the reality that it has amongst its organisation officers who are “poisoning the well” and they need to be weeded out.  

This reality is based on the results of arrest of several police officers and various surveys conducted on the police force. For example, Transparency International’s General Corruption Barometer 2020 results show that the police force is perceived to be one of the most corrupted institutions.

PDRM has many capable leaders within its ranks who are working tirelessly to clean up the force and getting rid of police personnel at every level who have abused their authority or tarnished the force’s image. The Government should support to their efforts on improving integrity within the force while cracking down on business cartels and organised crime in the country.

It is important that PDRM with the support of SPP need to identify and recognise good leaders within its organisation to achieve this goal. A good leader possesses three specific criteria:

  • Merit – the merit of a person can be assessed through one’s experience and professionalism in doing the job
  • Bold – is not afraid to uphold the truth even when directed to do something unlawful
  • Integrity – has strong ethical character and is known not to have done anything illegal for his/her personal interest

Sadly, the last two criteria seem to be lacking among many leaders today. Without integrity, everything the department does will be viewed as flawed and does a disservice to the members of the force who serve with dedication and integrity.

Moving forward, for the police force to regain public confidence, every officer needs to continue to work professionally, and more importantly, each must perform his or her duties without com­promising on integrity.

Done together with keeping politics out of policing work and ensuring no political inference in police administration, these will be viewed as commendable moves and strong steps in regaining public trust.

The IGP needs to carry out his leadership duties by being an example, especially in being commissioned as the highest police officer in the land; he must be ‘whiter than white’ and commit to recognising integrity among his officers, preventing internal conflict, supervising them better and training them better.

Raising policing stand­ards, enhancing professionalism, strengthening his Inspector General Standing Order (IGSO), review the previous reform programmes and relook at the business of promotions as well as building public respect for law enforcement personnel are some of them.

Acryl who has 35 years of experience in the force, and having held various senior position can be put all that expertise to good use in terms of strengthening the police force and enhancing integrity at all levels.

In addition, SPP should be revamped to make it structured similar the Civil Service Commission (SPA) to ensure that the integrity is not compromised and not appear to function like a rubber stamp. Steer SPP to a position of independence and not allowing political interference including in the appointment of new directors at Bukit Aman.

PDRM should keep fighting internal corruption, continue eliminating business cartels and organised crime. These are pertinent questions which time and the IGP along with the Government will answer. Their strategies and actions will give a clearer picture of how PDRM’s immediate future will be. 

The rakyat wants to be proud of their police force namely one that performs it duties diligently in maintaining law and order and protecting the country with the highest level of integrity. Let’s all work together to make this a reality. – May 10, 2021


Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar is the president of Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (MACFE).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Photo credit: Malaysiakini

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