Police recruiting of Chinese fails
A three-year campaign to persuade ethnic Chinese to join the Malaysian police force has failed as only 46 have applied to join the 90,000-strong force this year.
In 2005 and last year there were less then a dozen Chinese applicants.
The government wanted to increase the number of Chinese on the force from the current 2.3 per cent to at least 30 per cent to reflect the racial composition of the country, but despite numerous campaigns and road shows since 2005, Chinese youths still refrain from joining.
'We have failed to persuade them. We have to rework our strategies to convince the Chinese,' said Liow Tiong Lai, who had headed the campaign.
'There are major emotional, cultural and intellectual barriers,' said Mr Liow who is head of the youth wing of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the biggest Chinese-only political party and senior partner in the ruling National Front coalition.
Ethnic Malays make up more than 80 per cent of the force, but are 55 per cent of the population of 27 million. After the Chinese, the rest are mostly ethnic Indians and indigenous tribes. The racial distribution was more balanced in the 1960s when senior officers were British or local Anglophiles but top ranks now are overwhelmingly Malay and Islamic.
Political analyst James Wong said the overwhelmingly Malay face of the force is contributing to misunderstanding between the races.
'Strong public suspicion is natural in a situation where a majority Malay police oversees a multiracial populace,' he said. 'There is also significant political downside to it. It is not good for nation building.'
The government has raised police wages, offered overseas postings and education and career advancement opportunities to attract more Chinese but still there are few takers.
'I think it has got to do with being supervised by Malay officers,' said K.L. Wong, a retired police officer. 'Potential recruits feel the rest of Chinese society will look down on them.
'Previously Chinese were attracted, seeing police work as glamorous. But now the glamour is in having your own successful business and driving a BMW or Mercedes.'
The government says it will continue its campaign next year.
'We need a balanced force to resolve racial misunderstandings, improve our investigative skills and solve more Chinese-related criminal cases,' Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow said.