PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Thirteen years after it was first mooted, Malaysia will finally set up an independent body responsible for looking into complaints against the police force.
The Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) will replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), and act as an independent body to look into police complaints more holistically, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"The EAIC will be enhanced and changed into the IPCMC. It will be an independent and more holistic body."
"So there is a change in function and officers will have to be transferred," he said after chairing the fourth meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption on Friday (Sept 21).
Tun Dr Mahathir said there were many complaints against the police force and the government wanted to ensure the police would "clean up" their act.
"We will work hard to clean up the police force and ensure they receive proper treatment as police officers. At the same time, they must also work hard to clean themselves up," he said.
The IPCMC is a police oversight body first proposed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to improve the police force in 2005, following a spate of deaths in custody.
One of the 125 recommendations by the RCI was for an IPCMC to be set up, which will be independent and able to investigate police misconduct, as well as take necessary action.
The establishment of the IPCMC was also one of the pledges in the Pakatan Harapan coalition's manifesto for the 14th General Election.
In 2011, the government established the EAIC which had limited powers, as it could only recommend action that should be taken.
In an immediate reaction, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the government's decision was in line with Bukit Aman's goal of enhancing integrity among its personnel.
He said: "We are all for such a move to ensure the rights of our personnel are preserved.
"The commission will also ultimately enable us to deliver a better service for the public."
The special Cabinet committee on anti-corruption also decided that politicians would no longer be allowed to be appointed as heads of missions.
Dr Mahathir said the Foreign Ministry had proposed the move and the committee agreed.
There should not be any more cases of politicians, whether retired or not, being rewarded with an ambassador appointment.
"We will no longer allow that. This is a strong action against ourselves because of course there are many members of the government who would like to enjoy life abroad as a diplomat," said Dr Mahathir.
The Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption meeting also made other decisions, including replacing the Public Complaints Bureau with Ombudsman Malaysia, which Dr Mahathir said would be headed by an individual "whose integrity is unimpeachable".
"The government will have to table an Ombudsman Act in Parliament," he said.
An ombudsman is a government official appointed to receive and investigate complaints of abuses by public officials.
Other decisions made include absorbing the National Institute of Integrity, the National Integrity and Good Governance Department and similar agencies dealing with integrity under the new National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption.