Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed the appointment of Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador as the new Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has signed the appointment letter,” he told reporters at the Labour Day celebrations at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) on Wednesday (May 1).
On Monday (April 29) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun paid a farewell visit to Dr Mahathir before his upcoming retirement on Saturday (May 4).
Mohamad Fuzi – who turns 60 on May 4 – was appointed IGP on Sept 4 2017, taking over from Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
Meanwhile, when asked about the appointment of the new chief of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), the Prime Minister said the government had yet to find a suitable candidate.
Suhakam is currently without commissioners, as their terms expired on April 25.
Commissioners’ terms typically run for three years, and the last round of appointments were made in July 2016 and backdated to April that year.
The choice of the no-nonsense Datuk Abdul Hamid would underline the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s commitment to reform the scandalised police force.
However, sources told The Straits Times that there has been a months-long wrangling over the next IGP as both the Home Ministry and Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) have their own candidate in mind.
According to the sources, the ministry’s pick is National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK) director-general Zulkifli Abdullah while the police force wants Internal Security and Public Order Department director Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani for the top job.
“RMP and AADK are under the purview of the Home Ministry. Putting aside that it (IGP) is a political post, the ministry prefers to have someone who is easy to ‘control’… sort of a ‘yes man’. It’ll make working together in the long run easy for both sides (RMP and Home Ministry),” said an official source.
“In this case, Zulkifli fits the bill. He’s also one of the most senior policemen in the force.”
Prior to joining AADK, Datuk Seri Zulkifli was RMP’s Internal Security and Public Order Department director.
In August last year, he was transferred to the anti-drugs agency with immediate effect following a directive from Dr Mahathir.
This also came two months after The Straits Times reported that there would be a massive shake-up in the RMP.
Said the source: “Hamid, on the other hand, is different. He’s dedicated, but not the type to kowtow, close one eye or blindly agree when he needs to for work. If things do not sit well with him, he will voice it out and fight for what he believes in. That’s the quality that Mahathir wants in a leader.”
However, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is said to prefer someone whom he and his ministry can get along and work well with, the source added.
As for Datuk Seri Acryl, the source noted that he is known among the men in blue for his strong work ethic and good character.
In July 2015, Mr Abdul Hamid, Special Branch deputy chief at the time, was among several top officers, including then Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who were removed from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case as the scandal implicating then Prime Minister Najib Razak was unravelling.
He was transferred out of the Special Branch to the Prime Minister’s Department and later alleged a cover-up in the 1MDB investigations.
Following PH’s election victory in May last year, Mr Abdul Hamid returned to head the Special Branch. He was put in charge of recovering the superyacht Equanimity, once owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, and did so within three months.
Who eventually becomes IGP will have a major bearing on one of the key reforms that the PH coalition promised in its election manifesto.
The police force has long been perceived as corruption-ridden and a political tool, and accused of human rights abuses.