Home minister: Right time needed to shake up enforcement agencies, political will is required
PUTRAJAYA, March 30 — Making sweeping changes to Malaysia’s enforcement agencies was a delicate matter and must be undertaken at the right time, said Home Minister Senator Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
He said unlike when Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 general election, there were now more factors that must be considered, such as how the public would perceive the changes.
Saifuddin said this was why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has not made changes to the head of law enforcement agencies.
“If we change the personnel, they’ll say he’s influencing the agencies and putting his people in, conspiring, so to say.
“In the end, the comments would be that we’re the same as the previous governments; hence, we’re in a precarious position and it is very hard to please everyone,” he said during an engagement session with reporters.
Saifuddin said the government wished to establish mutual respect and trust with the agencies first, which meant not altering their hierarchies yet.
He said there were people working in these agencies with valuable institutional experience.
“So, criticism is par for the course and we will deal with this as it comes.”
During the campaign for the 15th general election, some Pakatan Harapan leaders said Tan Sri Azam Baki would be removed as the head of the MACC if the coalition won.
Saifuddin also admitted that the one thing that is needed to keep Malaysia's enforcement agencies in check is strong political will, such as the formation of independent committees, like the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to investigate wrongdoings in all enforcement agencies.
He however said the IPCMC is still not implemented yet as the government needs more time to figure out the oversight and framework over the committees.
"The prime minister is committed to forming these committees like the IPCMC but police felt they were singled out. So we had to work out what legal framework and jurisdiction they can work with. So if we feel there are weaknesses I want to fine-tune them," he said.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin denied that the government has put the federal police in Bukit Aman under a media gag as there have been fewer press conferences held by them now.
"There were no such statements from us and I made an announcement recently in front of the Inspector-General of Police. I said I have no problems going back to the old ways where there were lots of press conferences.
"As a minister I can only mention something and encourage them, they're professionals. So I encourage all meetings with the media and I don't believe in pre-planned questions," he said.