Reforming the Special Branch

The statement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, after his meeting with the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim yesterday, did not clarify anything.

Khalid’s statement did not clarify whether or not Tunku Ismail’s phone was tapped and whether or not his movements were monitored. This issue is of public interest and should not be “settled” behind closed doors without proper accountability to the public.

Khalid must explain to the public 1) whether the Special Branch conducted surveillance on Tunku Ismail and if so, on what legal basis? 2) how many politicians and activists are under Special Branch’s surveillance?

Any surveillance on Tunku Ismail and his father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, and on politicians are gross abuse of police powers for political purposes.

Under subsection 3(3) of 1967 Police Act, the Special Branch is tasked to “collect security intelligence”. According to the Tun Dzaiddin Report of 2005, there is no legal provisions dealing with the functions, powers and duties of the Special Branch.

The Dzaiddin Report called for a clear definition of the term “security” to avoid abuse. It is suggested that “security” be defined as follows: ”The protection of, and of the people of, the Federation and States from:
a. espionage.
b. sabotage.
c. politically or religiously motivated violence.
d. communal violence.
e. attacks on Malaysia’s defence system.
f. foreign interference, whether directed from or committed within Malaysia or not.
g. the carrying out of Malaysia’s responsibilities to any foreign country in relation to a matter mentioned in paragraph (a).

Tunku Ismail clearly doesn’t fall under those categories.

According to the 2016 Federal Budget, of the 141,853 positions in the Police, 8,287 positions are budgeted for the Special Branch, with a budget of RM 492,358,000 (RM 492 million). (The total budget for the Police is RM7.98 billion).

Khalid owes Johoreans and Malaysians an answer for the alleged surveillance on Tunku Ismail and Sultan Ibrahim, as well as on the functions, powers, and duties of the Special Branch.

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