OCPDs detained (Updated)

PUTRAJAYA: Two district police chiefs (OCPDs) were among three officers detained in Malacca today for allegedly taking bribes from operators of illegal gambling and vice dens.

The two – an assistant commissioner and an assistant superintendent – and an inspector, were picked up in a follow-up operation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In confirming the arrests, MACC deputy commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki (pix) said they are also investigating claims of gambling and vice kingpins influencing the transfer of police officers who do not cooperate with them.

"We are (checking) these claims and if there are elements of power abuse and corruption, we will take action against them," he said when contacted today.

This comes after the arrests on Tuesday of two police assistant superintendents and an inspector by MACC. Also held were three individuals who were middlemen and gambling centre operators who allegedly facilitated the bribes. All six detained, aged between 31 and 41, were remanded for six days and MACC said more arrests are expected.

It is learnt that there were cases of police officers bowing to the demands of criminal syndicates because they feared being transferred out of their police districts on the influence of the kingpins.

Sources revealed that MACC had received many reports and tip-offs on illegal gambling and vice activities nationwide over the last few months.

Although all information received are investigated, not all cases are pursued as MACC's powers to act are limited to cases of power abuse and corruption while the rest are possibly offences under the purview of the police and municipal councils.

There are believed to be at least 15,000 illegal gambling centres and vice dens nationwide.

Federal police Integrity and Standard Compliance Department director Comm Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab said police have opened a parallel investigation on the detained police officers.

"We have close working ties with MACC and will wait for the outcome of its investigations before deciding on the next course of action against the officers," he told theSun today.

"They may be relieved of active duty with half pay or face a full suspension if they are charged for the offences," he added.

On claims of kingpins of illegal businesses having "dark powers" to get police officers transferred out, Abdul Ghafar said it was not possible as transfers of officers with the rank of assistant superintendent and above are decided by the federal police commission.

"How is it possible for these kingpins to influence the transfers?"

"There is a special panel comprising directors and other top officers who scrutinise and decide on promotions and transfers in a tedious process."

Transfers of inspectors and rank-and-file personnel is the prerogative of the state police chief.

Abdul Ghafar said the force is very strict in handling misconduct among police personnel.

"Last year, we sacked 208 personnel and took action on over 2,000 others. No other government agency has expelled as many as we have. The wayward ones make up just 2% of a force of 120,000."

Abdul Ghafar said MACC detained 179 police personnel last year, of which 32 were charged in court.

Of these, nine have been convicted while the outcome of the rest are still pending.

Earlier today, the detained police chiefs and the inspector were taken to the Putrajaya magistrate's court, where a six-day remand order was issued against them.