Crackdown ordered on brazenly corrupt police

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am

The investigation and punishment of corrupt Malaysian police has been ordered after an independent report cited cases of senior officers making millions by running brothels and protection rackets and turning a blind eye to drug trafficking.

Public and media outrage over the brazen corruption revealed in this week's royal commission report spurred Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to order the investigation of officers, especially one who officially earned M$5,000 ($10,200) a month but was worth M$34 million when he retired.

'I can't believe this ... it is a huge amount and a huge surprise to us all,' said Mr Najib. 'We will find the sources of such wealth and punish the offenders.'

The royal commission into the police made its 640-page report public on Monday. Concluding that the force was completely inefficient and corrupt, it recommended 125 revamp measures. Highlighting the corrupt practices mentioned in the report, media coverage enraged the public, which demanded immediate action.

Sources said most of the senior officers have since retired. Some have moved overseas, while others remained in Malaysia, investing their ill-gotten gains in legitimate businesses.

The report mentioned one senior police officer who collected M$200,000 a month in protection money.

Another officer made M$7.4 million over five years operating a string of brothels and other illicit businesses.

The report said police officers also paid their bosses to secure lucrative positions, such as in the anti-narcotics branch, where million-dollar bribes are said to be common.

Lower-level police demanded M$100 from detainees for making a phone call, M$200 for eggs with their breakfast, and M$300 to pass a message to their family.

'We all knew the force was corrupt, but not to this extent,' said Elizabeth Wong, secretary-general of the National Human Rights Society. 'The first step to a new clean and effective force is to investigate and charge these officers.'

The identity of the 'M$34 million cop' is the hottest topic both inside and outside the force.

'While the people generally welcome the report and recommendations to improve the police, the public wants action against the corrupt cops, especially the M$34 million cop,' said the Malay Mail daily.

Informed officials said the officer had retired and recently suffered partial paralysis due to a stroke.

Many are also demanding an investigation into numerous instances in which drug traffickers were acquitted because of insufficient evidence.

'Now that we know how corrupt the police are, these acquittals are all very suspicious,' a lawyer said.