'Integrity is Our Practice', is the motto visible in every single police station across the country, as with the badge worn by every policeman. We often hear people speaking about integrity, whether a topic of discussion or on television programmes, also as part of work ethics and moral culture in the public or private sector, as well as in non-governmental organisations. While the word may seem familiar to all of us, do we know what it means?
By definition, integrity means the quality of being honest and having strong moral uprightness, regardless the situation. These strong moral principles should be practised in all organisations, especially those in the service sectors and law enforcement agencies such as the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), to ensure high quality service standards are met. Having said this, integrity is certainly key for all government organisations as their representatives continue to serve the public, and provide them with a form of assurance in their day to day lives.
Aside the military and immigration department, policing institutions are among the major security organisations that are tasked to preserve and protect our national security. It is crucial for the police especially, to have a sense of integrity and ensure their responsibilities are carried out in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Constitution of Malaysia, and abide to the rule of law, because they are after all the disciplinary authorities and the biggest enforcement power to enforce perhaps hundreds of acts and statute laws.
Surprisingly, a report issued by the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), the task force is a federal government agency set up under the Commission Integiti Enforcement Agency Act 2009 (Act 700) which came to effect on April 1, 2011, indicated that PDRM received the highest number of complaints compared with other government agencies.
EAIC’S main function is to address complaints against the police, and other law enforcement agencies received by the members of the public. There are currently 21 law enforcement agencies under its supervision, which includes PDRM. The commission is also responsible only to conduct investigations and make recommendations on punishments to the agencies under its watch.
According to the latest report on EAIC’s website, PDRM continues to record the highest number of complaints in six years since its establishment. In 2013, there were 215 complaints against the police, of the 306 total complaints, which was followed by 15 complaints to the Immigration Department, and 10 complaints against the Road Transport Department. The highest number of complaints received was in 2012, which amounted to 358 complaints, of which 253 were against PDRM. At the time of writing, there have been 328 complaints reported in 2016; 212 of which were complaints against the police.
Based on the EAIC’s statistics, up until September 19, 2016 31 per cent of complaints were made through an official letter, 29 per cent via e-mail, 25 per cent filed by the complainant at the EAIC office, 7 per cent through anonymous letters, 5 per cent through agencies’ reference, while 3 per cent were channeled through the mass media.
When contacted, Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff, President and CEO of the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (INTEGRITI), who is also one of the commissioners in EAIC, explained, average reports that came to EAIC’s attention were lodge against PDRM’s inaction. However, occasionally, there were reports on cases taking too long, and worse, the loss of evidence by the police during an investigation.
This tarnishes the reputation of PDRM as the biggest enforcement agency that constantly aspires to ensure the safety of the public. Furthermore, their duties and responsibilities revolve around security issues and sensitive matters, hence the unit’s effectiveness is imperative.
Through the partnership, Dr Anis observed how there is evidently a negative perception from the public about PDRM. However, according to a survey conducted by Megat Ayop Megat Arifin and Abd. Halim Ahmad published in the “Malaysian Journal of Society and Space” in 2016, they found these complaints to be unreliable as they do not define the effectiveness of an agency, with only less than 1 per cent of the cases of misconduct involving incompetent PDRM officers and personnel.
Very rarely do we find members of the public commending our police forces who have served the country day and night, putting their lives out their only to preserve the security and safety of the public, as well as the country. However, when a handful of more than 130,000 officers slip up, the public is quick to spread words like wildfire on social media, blaming the entire force for their lack of integrity. Personally, the author can attest that there are members of the force who are in acquaintance with him, and they all display high integrity and are very prudent individuals.
In addition to this, various initiatives have been taken to improve the integrity of PDRM, to ensure people do not lose confidence in the police force and to maintain the relevance of the force as a law enforcement agency in the country.
Among the efforts undertaken by PDRM is the establishment of Integrity and Standard Compliance Department (JIPS), putting on the "Integrity is Our Practice" badge, increasing rounds at hot spots, the enforcement of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, PDRM integrity communications systems, to improve and strengthen the culture of integrity and discipline among PDRM staff through the PDRM Integrity Plan 2016-2020, implementing the narcotics control scheme, declaration of ownership of assets by officers and PDRM staff through the Public Officer (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993, as well as a renewed system of duties and procedures.
The setting up of JIPS addresses integrity at its core. As a result, based on the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management published report in 2005, the Religion and Counseling Division (BAKA) was formed to help produce policemen with high moral as well as religious values. BAKA which was approved in 2007 saw a total of 1,571 positions created, with 20 per cent filled by police officers, while the remaining consisted of public officials from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and the counselor of the Public Service Department (JPA).
As members of the public, we might have overlooked the fact, or are not aware of it, that due to time constraints and the workload of the police, many of the members in the force are suffering from stress. In addition to the rising crime, the police are also required to process security intelligence; provide assistance in the implementation of the law to other agencies such as the immigration, registration and revenue; issue fines, subpoenas and warrants of arrest; provide assistance in protecting lives and properties; even capture stray animals.
Many things in our day to day lives involve the police. This include arguments that happen between married couples, complaints against the outburst of some politicians, right up to reporting on a missing child – all these scenarios involve members of the public lodging a report to the police.
The working hours of members of the force are erratic and sometimes with an on-call schedule that may lead up to more than 24-hours. For example, murder cases involving highly influential individuals or a triad puts a great amount of pressure on the police, especially when there is a threat against their family or themselves. Like all of us, police officers also have families and we must remember that they too need to spend time with them.
When compared with other occupations, having a job as a police officer is the most stressful job. This was proven based on the study conducted by the Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (PPUKM) from 2007 to 2009. The study found that being a policeman is the most stressful job with 53.7 per cent of policemen citing stress, followed by 48.8 per cent; prison guard, 47.3 per cent; firemen, 45.8 per cent; teachers, 42.3 per cent; nurses, and 40.7; percent doctors.
As a member of the public who hopes Malaysia will always be safe and secure, our role is to provide support to PDRM to ensure the harmony of our country will not be compromised. In saying which, the author also believes that the number of enforcement personnel should be increased, especially with the rising crime rates. More police officers are required to ensure cases are resolved and to enhance the effectiveness of PDRM, what more with the increase in crime daily, in addition to accidents involving the loss of lives.
Undoubtedly, with high efficiency and integrity, and a theme which promises “Polis dan masyarakat berpisah tiada” (Police and society, There is no separation), the author believes crime will be curbed, and safety and security will be improved in our country.
Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Kelantan Branch
Resource : Malaysian Digest