Political will needed to weed out corruption in police force: Ex-IGP

PETALING JAYA: A total reform in the police force to weed out corruption and black sheep will succeed only if there is political will.

Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan who lauded any effort for the reform of the police force said civil servants merely adhere to policies drafted by law makers and will fail in fighting graft if they were not backed by the government.

"If there is no political will, you cannot fight corruption. It will not work if a civil servant is fighting the cause alone. It will backfire and fail." he told theSun.

However, Musa objected to political meddling in the selection and removal of the police leadership by lawmakers, stressing such powers are solely the prerogative of the Police Force Commission (PFC).

"Reforming is good but you cannot just sack or remove a police officer as you wish. It has to be first proven if the officer in question had committed a disciplinary or criminal offence before action is taken.

"If is is a criminal offence, then charge him in court. If it is a disciplinary issue then he should face internal action like a suspension or removal from active duty. Subsequently, if he is found guilty then the decision to dismiss him from the force can be decided. All these should be discussed and solely decided by the PFC and not politicians. You cannot simply sack an officer because he is presumed to be inclined to a certain (political) party." he said.

According to the role of the PFC according to Article 140 (1) of the Federal Constitution, members of the commission comprise of the Home Minister as chairman, the secretary-general of the Home Ministry, a commanding officer of the police force, a member of the Public Services Commission (PSC) who is appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong and at least two but not more than six others also appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

Musa served the police force for 41 years and was IGP between 2006 and 2010.

He was to go on mandatory retirement in 2009 but received a two-year extension of service contract.

However, a year later the Home Ministry ended his contract abruptly after he criticised certain ministers for interfering with police work.

During his tenure, Musa had pledged to reform the police force by implementing several initiatives and campaigns to fight corruption and rid black sheep but faced tough resistance from parties who were not in favour of his goals.

Asked about this yesterday, he admitted that he had failed in his efforts to clean up the police force.

"I had called for the forming of the IPIC (Independent Police Integrity Commission) which was specifically to reform the police force. I submitted the papers to the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and it was approved.

"However, the EAIC (Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission) was formed instead and tasked to handle such issues with all enforcement agencies in the country.

Basically, there was no political will at the time for the reform of the police force and too much meddling in police matters by the politicians. I tried very hard and there was backlash." he told theSun.

Asked on how certain politicians had interfered in police matters during his tenure, Musa said there were instances when minister's bypassed his authority as the police chief and gave orders to his subordinates on certain matters.

"There is a chain of command in the police force and ministers cannot simply direct police directors or officers without the knowledge of the IGP.

"This was what that was happening during my time. I gave leeway to my men to arrest anyone who flouts the law, regardless of their political party or who they are. The force must be apolitical and this must be reflected in its actions." he said.

He admitted that when such arrests were made, there were attempts by senior politicians to influence the release of those held.

"I never allowed that to happen. As a result they started making all sorts of allegations against me. I lodged a report and even the then ACA (Anti-Corruption Agency) investigated me but of course they found nothing." he said.

Among the slanders mounted on Musa were allegations that he was close to secret societies and colluded with it –all of which could not be proven after investigations were initiated against him.

Asked how he felt when his two-year service extension contract was abruptly ended after a year, Musa said: "I had told them not to interfere in my job and objected to the political meddling.

"My conscience is clear and I had carried out my duties to the best of my ability. In a way, I was happy because there was no point in arguing with them."

He revealed this a day before he left the force in Aug, 2010 but the following day during a handover ceremony with his successor Tan Sri Ismail Omar, the then Home Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam denied the allegations at the event in the presence of Musa.

Mahmood Adam claimed that the Musa's accusations could be a result of the home ministry's disapproval of certain recommendations made by the police.

Although Musa did not name the minister's involved in his allegations, it was obvious he was referring to the then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein.

Musa said the government offered him the post of an ambassador soon after his retirement but he turned it down because " he was not trained to be an ambassador " and "did not want to have anything to do with the government" due to the exasperations he had faced as a result of the meddling of police matters by politicians.

Last week, a news report by the Singapore Straits Times quoted unnamed sources as saying a major revamp of the the police force by the Home Ministry is imminent and would involve the ousting of top brass officers including the IGP and the disbanding of three elite police units that allegedly protected criminal syndicates instead of eradicating them.

However, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied there will be a major reform in the police force but admitted that he was looking at a reshuffle in line with the new government's vision of good governance in all agencies.