THE TALK

New Straits Times - - Viewpoint -

More than RM1 mil­lion in cash has been seized so far from the po­lice­men, in­clud­ing RM800,000 re­port­edly found in a lance cor­po­ral’s home, an amaz­ing amount con­sid­er­ing lance cor­po­ral is the sec­ond low­est rank in the en­tire force. All these were nabbed for al­legedly run­ning a pro­tec­tion racket, col­lect­ing money from il­le­gal gam­bling dens and mas­sage par­lours in ex­change for pro­tect­ing them against po­lice ac­tion.

When news of the ar­rests in Bukit Aman and Me­laka came out, so­cial me­dia web­sites were abuzz with com­ments from ne­ti­zens who, in­vari­ably, had some­thing bad to say about the force. It was al­ways a vari­a­tion of the stan­dard: “Ya lorr... all these cops know only one thing... to col­lect

It is true, many of us have had run-ins with crooked cops. But many of us have also come across po­lice­men who are not crooked, who have in­tegrity. So, one tends to be­lieve the home min­is­ter or the in­spec­tor-gen­eral of po­lice when they say there is only a small per­cent­age of po­lice­men who are cor­rupt, though one tends to be­lieve the prob­lem is at least slightly big­ger than what these fine gentle­men think it to be. Let’s face it, though. No mat­ter what the num­bers are, one cor­rupt po­lice­man is one too many for such a fine pro­fes­sion.

But the big­ger is­sue is this. It takes two hands to clap, as the say­ing goes. In or­der for cor­rup­tion to ex­ist, in or­der for po­lice­men to do the tak­ing, there must be some­one do­ing the giv­ing. Let’s not talk about crime syn­di­cates and crim­i­nals in gen­eral. Let’s talk about us.

How many of us have tried to bribe a traf­fic po­lice­man to not give us a ticket for speed­ing or some other small traf­fic of­fence? How many of those who com­mented on so­cial me­dia about the Nar­cotics Depart­ment of­fi­cers and Me­laka po­lice­men have a clean con­science when it comes to bribery?

Those men in Bukit Aman and Me­laka, if in­deed they are guilty of what they are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for, are in the pock­ets of crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions. There are those who are not, but get money any­way from the reg­u­lar Joes, the man on the street, the nor­mal ci­ti­zen (and for­eigner). Those who pay off cor­rupt po­lice­men with sin­gu­lar RM20 or RM50, even RM10 notes are equally as guilty as those who take the money.

For a zero-cor­rup­tion so­ci­ety to ex­ist, the prac­tice of giv­ing needs to be erad­i­cated as much as the cul­ture of tak­ing. This has in­deed be­come a cul­ture for us. And it is be­cause of this that for­mer prime min­is­ter Tun Ab­dul­lah Ah­mad Badawi had cre­ated such a thing as In­sti­tut In­tegriti Malaysia.

When the idea for the in­sti­tute was first mooted, many thought it was rather shame­ful that we as a coun­try would need such an in­sti­tute. Af­ter all, shouldn’t in­tegrity be in­grained in us? But it would ap­pear that we need just such an in­sti­tute. It would seem these days that in­tegrity is not some­thing that we in­stil in our chil­dren. How else can we ex­plain the cul­ture of cor­rup­tion that seems so per­va­sive in our so­ci­ety?

In or­der for us to have a graft­free coun­try, all as­pects of so­ci­ety need to work to­gether. From politi­cians and lead­ers, to civil ser­vants, right down to or­di­nary cit­i­zens. Ev­ery­one.

There is no need to point fin­gers. It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is our coun­try.

The writer has more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, much of which has been spent writ­ing about crime and the mil­i­tary. A die-hard Red Devil, he can usu­ally be found wear­ing a Manch­ester United jersey when out­side of work

A man re­manded for sus­pected in­volve­ment in the pro­tec­tion racket in Me­laka last week. We must work to­gether to rid the coun­try of cor­rup­tion.

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