Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin has admitted it was his voice in the audio recording that discussed the selection of police directors and chief police officers of the various states.
Although the home minister said there was nothing wrong with it, any right-thinking person could tell his conduct was ethically and administratively wrong.
Some of the comments he made in the audio recording were highly obnoxious, and he must be censured.
He is heard to have said that the inspector general of police only needs to present a list of senior officers for the posts of directors and the state chief police officers and, unlike previously, the final decision is “we will decide”, which presumably means the minister decides.
Although Article 140 of the Constitution gives the chairmanship of the Police Force Commission to the home minister, it does not mean he has absolute power to make decisions on promotions and appointments.
By convention, the inspector general has much say because he knows his personnel well and his views should be respected.
What does the minister know about discipline and police personnel management? A minister comes and go.
Politicians are stigmatised with cronyism and nepotism, whereas those in uniform are known for their integrity, and they readily sacrifice and risk their lives in the line of duty.
We are reminded of the 2013 Lahad Datu incident, a black mark in the history of our security forces that brought shame. Any veterans or even current serving officers of reasonable high ranking will agree. The then ministers of defence and home affairs blundered. They behaved like generals, calling the shots instead of allowing the generals on the ground to do their jobs.
In the audio recording, Hamzah is alluded to saying his intention of giving promotion to “orang kita” (our people) and “budak kita” (our boys) for senior positions in the police force.
This is utter abandonment of the principles of good governance where promotions should be on merit and not based on cronyism or from one’s own state or to please the royalty.
Referring to senior police officers as “budak” is an insult to all those in uniform. The ranks of senior police officers are given by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Most are still well respected long after their retirement. A minister is a nobody the moment he leaves office.
There is hierarchy in rank in the security forces. Those in the lower ranks respect and take orders from higher ranks. For the military, in war, if a commander orders his subordinates to sacrifice their lives in a do-or-die mission, the officers and men will follow his orders. They fight for their commander and for the king.
Calling their commanders ‘budak” is an unpardonable insult. This insult is equally felt by the men and women in the entire police force.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must fire Hamzah Zainuddin for his insult, insolence and disregard for the statutory functions of the police force.
Retaining him would give the impression that ministers in the Perikatan Nasional government are free to act above the law with total disregard to the principles and conventions of good governance. It also means that the PN government is not serious about rooting out corruption.
With regard to the Police Force Commission board, Patriot believes the membership needs a review. The Constitution provides for up to six members to be appointed by the Agong. Instead of appointing retired police officers, the police directors should be appointed.
Retired Brigadier-General Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd) is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)