Tuesday, June 09, 2015
Agency war or Clean-up?
One news caught our attention last week.
On Wednesday, New Straits Times reported of a controversial Special Branch (SB) report that expose 80 percent of enforcement agencies involved with the border are on the take.
The only discussion came out of this report was how NST secured the SB report. It is heard one high police official was asked of this report and he seemed visibly upset and asked reporters to ask SB. The source was hoping a quarrel would break out between the police official and SB for a story.
The source was told that SB is not answerable to the IGP but directly brief the Prime Minister. So do not waste time and create an agency war.
At around last week, there was also a story on another potential agency war. This involved the spouse to a MACC officer.
Their house was broken in and the husband to the officer made a police report. The businessman husband reported the items stolen.
Suddenly the police report went viral and without reading the finely written report, the social media jumped to the conclusion that the MACC officer was corrupt.
Unless the husband viral his police report, it must have been picked up and made viral by some police officer. Only a police officer in the know of the incident, or have access to the report number and could access the police system to be able to get a hold of the report and viral it.
What would have motivated the police officer to slander the MACC officer?
Few years back, there was a major raid on police by MACC and it was reported by some opposition leaning newspaper that 30 high ranking officer was suspected and investigated for corruption. Could this be part of the animosity within the police ranks towards MACC?
The probable reason could be of a gentleman agreement between these enforcement agencies. Each agency deal with leakages, corruption and indiscipline internally and on their own thus no encroachment into each other's turf.
Over the years, the turf had became more unclear when Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Malay acronym APMM) and ESSCOM were formed. APMM took over part of the marine police and navy area of responsibility and asset. Then came the issue of under whom should APMM be under: Police or Navy?
There was no political solution insight and APMM was placed under civilian administration, PM Department.
APMM was widely empowered; having various authorities of the agencies the staff was seconded from - police, navy, immigration, custom, etc.
However, it did not made it more effective as clearly seen by the big expose on diesel smuggling which sources said came about due to structural problem within APMM and corruption. Apparently, the agency and Departments that seconded the staff generally did not sent over the best people but rejects.
One embarassing situation as told to us by a friend in Sabah happened during the Mabul heist by the neighboring Suluk. APMM boat allegedly was within the vicinity of the incident but they fled off.
Revealing this is not to make APMM look coward. The boat could be staffed by former Immigration staff that are not trained for combat.
The mention of Immigration is also to highlight the problem of ESSCOM. Out of the need to have a Sabahan as head, a Director from Immigration was given the position to head the command. By right, it should have been someone from security and able to draw up and implement a security strategy. As a result, there had been two border incidents with the Suluk.
Having a civilian to lead a security command, they are unable to appreciate the need to address such proposals by the Navy to designate the sea lane for the Suluk in order to contain them. It is only when a third incident happen that such sensitive proposal as to stop barter trading or in other word to teach them a lesson can be openly said.
Quite sure a civilian at the top will not have the guts to press the button to approve our submarines to smash any threatening looking Suluk boat into smitterenes.
The attitude to the two reports on agency rivalry should be seen positively.
A raid by MACC on top rank police should be seen as giving opportunity to dedicated, serious and honest cop to move up the ladder or at least allow a palatable working environment.
The leak of the SB report, whoever had done it, should be an eye opener of the widely known happening at all borders. It is not about SB targeting police but also all agencies manning the borders.
Security at the border should not be taken likely. Much income from tax by-passed the government coffer. Border become so porous that immigrants are crowding our cities and undesirable social problem are emerging.
Illegal entry had been so endemic that Malaysia was once accused as a centre for human traficking. It required the Foreign Ministry to explain that it is not human traficking but illegal immigrants.
The most recent finding was the mass graveyards of illegal immigrants left to die by human traficking syndicates. One fairly informative blogger turned Fbooker claimed involvement of a corrupt Thai general.
However, there is no need to get into a blame mode as it does serve any purpose. How big is the workforce of MACC to snoop and investigate on every other misdeed done by public administration?
At least the NST expose gave Sang Kelembai some explanation. It highlights the need to clean-up all enforcement agencies from corruption. There is a need to make the hard decision to put the structure right and equipped them with the proper asset and training.
The NST exposure below:
EXCLUSIVE: 80pc of enforcers manning borders on the take
By Farrah Naz Karim - 3 June 2015 @ 12:48 PM
A CONTROVERSIAL report compiled by the Special Branch revealed that a staggering 80 per cent of the nation’s security personnel and law enforcement officers at Malaysian borders are corrupt.
This shocking revelation is the result of 10 years of covert, deep-cover surveillance and intelligence gathering by the Special Branch at the nation’s border checkpoints, and at different enforcement agencies throughout the country, including the Immigration Department, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the Anti-Smuggling Unit (UPP) and the police’s General Operations Force.
Sources within the Special Branch told the New Straits Times that these personnel were not only on the take, but many were on the payroll of syndicates dealing with drugs, weapons and even human smuggling.
The Special Branch, which is tasked with providing intelligence for the country’s enforcement agencies to act on, had, over the years, shared crucial information with these agencies. However, on many occasions, they were not followed through, for reasons known only to these agencies that were fed intel.
The Special Branch said the problem faced in arresting corruption among law enforcers — many of whom work hand-in-glove — was exacerbated by the fact that since the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA), it was only provisioned to deal with the problem using the Anti-Trafficking on Persons Act-Smuggling of Migrants and Security Offences and Special Measures Act (Sosma).
This, the Special Branch said, did not have the “bite” and scope of the pre-emptive law, and the level of proof expected by the courts was “extremely high”.
“We are dealing with smugglers with a very intricate network ... and we are expected to catch them red-handed in the act if we want to secure a conviction.
“Yes, Sosma allows witnesses to testify on-camera, but their testimonies can easily be traced back to them. That is why many of our witnesses refuse to cooperate.
“Even relying on signals intelligence (SIGINT), like phone intercepts, is difficult as the identity of our men handling the chain of evidence will have to be made known. We cannot afford to expose our men who deal with highly confidential processes and intel,” a top-ranking official said.
The Special Branch had, since 2009, used the ISA against the snakeheads of human smuggling as well as enforcement officers who aided them and closed their eyes at the entry of unsavoury characters. Among the major coups for the Special Branch was 2011’s arrest of eight Immigration Department officers based at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport under the ISA for their alleged involvement in a multi-million ringgit human trafficking operation.
That bust yielded a treasure-trove of intelligence. During one interrogation session, one of the suspects was asked the simple question: “Who else are under the payroll of the syndicate?”
“It would be easier if you asked us for the names of officers who were not on the take,” was the bone-chilling reply.
“The only ‘clean’ officers are the ones who double up as imam and bilal at the surau.”
This damning indictment had done little to arrest the problem. The eight, who had since been dismissed from civil service, had their detention order revoked only a few months after serving time in Kamunting.
Another former ISA detainee revealed how the syndicate would set aside RM70,000 every month to grease the palms of enforcement agencies, including Immigration and UPP officers who were on their payroll.
The payoff to UPP is to ensure that the migrants are funnelled through this final screening point quickly to avoid raising the suspicion of straight-laced officers. The detainee, known only as Ash, said that they also had special “arrangements” with the Marine Police and MMEA. The syndicate would be given details of the scheduled patrols for a small fee.
Should they be intercepted by these patrol boats, an “emergency stash” of RM10,000 always came in handy.
“The enemy we have to fight is one that operates as an institution ... we are dealing with institutionalised corruption that is so deeply entrenched, that expecting internal disciplining is like asking the chief crook to rat out on his runners,” the official said.
The branch revealed to the NST that human smugglers released from incarceration at the Kamunting Detention Camp following the abolishment of the ISA (authorities were then ready to recommend an extended detention for unrepentant smugglers) back in the business, which promises lucrative returns.
While the Special Branch is not optimistic that the problem would be reined in any time soon, it said there was still hope if enforcement agencies that were fed intel for them to act on would actually act on them.
Exploitation at the hands of ‘protectors’
3 June 2015 @ 1:48 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: Almost a year ago, the Special Branch had gathered solid intel (Category A1 — undisputed intelligence) on a major human smuggling syndicate.
The syndicate was moving 290 immigrants onto a ship waiting just off Malaysian waters. Intercepted phone conversations and exhaustive surveillance revealed that they were headed for Australia.
As the human cargo was transported out of the safe houses that it had been kept in for several weeks and loaded onto a bus, lorries and cars, the surveillance team maintained a constant bead on its movement. There was a reason, according to the Special Branch, why the massive operation was being carried out openly.
Escorting the convoy, led by the human smuggling syndicate, were two Royal Malaysia Police mobile patrol vehicles, which took it right up to the boats that were moored, ready to take the immigrants to the mother ship that was waiting for them in international waters.
Details of the operation, made available to the New Straits Times, also revealed that these boats,once under way, were escorted by two Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) patrol vessels to ensure that the immigrants would reach international human smugglers, unmolested.
“Our plan was to intercept them before they hit international waters. We wanted a strong, water-tight case. “So we roped in the Marine Police. The minute the Marine Police were in sight, the MMEA patrols took off. “All those on board were taken into custody.
“There were three tontos and two tekong.
“The case against the syndicate couldn’t be stronger,” the Special Branch revealed. The department then posed these burning questions.
“This was in April, 2014. What happened to it?
“Where are the immigrants? What happened to the members of the syndicate who were caught red-handed?”
The Special Branch also has an issue with the trend among law enforcement agencies to “transfer out the problem”. Case in point, it said, were cases of Immigration personnel attached at the country’s entry points being transferred to other areas when the spotlight was on them.
‘I want army to man borders’: Zahid
3 June 2015 @ 1:49 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: The home minister is pushing for a drastic move in hopes of crippling institutionalised corruption at the borders, as a damning intelligence report emerged to reveal that most law enforcement officers manning the country’s entry and exit points were on the take.
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the New Straits Times that he would present his case to the cabinet today on why it was more crucial than ever for enforcement agencies guarding the borders to be relieved of their duties. He wants them to be replaced with the military.
“I cannot tolerate this. That is why I will take this up with the cabinet tomorrow (today) to ask that the army takes over fully.
“It is high time for the army to be put in charge of the borders as it is not only about security, but also defence. It is the country’s first line of defence and I have always felt that this should be the way, even when I was defence minister.
“The issue of institutionalised corruption, where these law enforcement officers know the syndicate members well, must be arrested once and for all,” he said. Zahid said he would also raise the issue of the country’s perimeter fencing, which was practically non-existent.
“When even nations with electrical, high, concrete fencing had to grapple with the problem of encroachment, imagine the problem we are facing. Our border areas that are being penetrated are not rat lanes (lorong tikus). They are elephant lanes that are easily accessible.”
He added that the Malaysian Anti-Smuggling Unit should also operate beyond its fixed checkpoints at the border to arrest rampant smuggling.
We tend to agree. Hope Zahid stop issuing visas and take stock of the situation.
Great scoop and congratulations, Fara!
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