PDRM urged to retract decision to reduce percentage of local police personnel in S’wak force

George Young Si Ricord Jr

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KUCHING, Dec 2: Habitat for Indigenous and Urban Programme (Hidup) president George Young hopes that the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) will retract its decision to reduce the number of police personnel of Sarawak origin in the state’s police force from the current 70 per cent to 40 per cent.

He revealed Hidup has been receiving feedback from Sarawakians expressing their concern and disappointment with such a drastic move.

“Hidup, on behalf of concerned Sarawakians would like to urge the police to rescind the decision based on the fact that Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia where there are not only a variety of different ethnic groups, languages and customs but also longer borders with neighbouring countries stretching across vast remote thick jungles and inhospitable environment,” George asserted in a statement today.

He also revealed many of those in the force have shared their consternation about having to uproot themselves and their families to be transferred to Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah especially considering the hardships faced during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a major disruption to their lives, their children’s education plus the risk of being able to access and support their extended families with restrictions on travel during this pandemic. And as Sarawakians, we know how close knit communities are whether in the kampung or longhouses. Unlike in Peninsular Malaysia, some places on remote Sarawak you can’t just take a van sapu, Grab (ride) or bus,” he added.

George explained such a reduction exercise would be futile as Sarawak still need its own people to serve the various ethnic communities.

“We need more Sarawakians in the police force who are familiar with the languages, customs, topography and local affairs not just to maintain strong rapport with locals but also have the advantage of getting cooperation, information and collaboration from them in effective crime prevention and law enforcement,” he added.

He elaborated that in view of the shared border with Kalimantan, only the locals would be familiar enough to handle related matters, whether smuggling, theft, robbery or other illegal or criminal activities.

“The fact that many of the local Sarawakians have relatives or friends from the same or similar ethnic groups living in Kalimantan, gives them the unique advantage to obtain intelligence that often lead to the arrest and prosecution of such criminals,” he reasoned.

George was commenting on a statement by PDRM director of management Datuk Ramli Din made during a working visit to the state on November 20.

Ramli was reported to have said that the 70 per cent of police personnel in the state were Sarawakians, which exceeded the police’s target of 40 per cent for locals serving in their home state.

Due to that, Ramli was reported to have said that the police would consider reducing the number to about 40 per cent in stages, including in Sabah, as part of its rotation posting procedure, especially concerning sensitive posts, and to give opportunities to senior personnel to be posted back to their home state.

George stressed that, while Hidup understands that the police may have its reasons for reducing the number of Sarawakians in the state’s police force, it strongly urged them not to make such drastic and disruptive changes especially when the Covid-19 pandemic is still not eradicated.

“Obviously criminal activities across the state would be reduced due to Covid-19 travel and movement restrictions. Theft and house break-ins naturally would be down as people are at home most of the time. When the situation returns to normal post-Covid-19 pandemic, we will still need more local Sarawakian police personnel with good knowledge and strong relationships with the locals to perform effective community policing,” he added.

Besides Hidup, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) secretary-general Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi recenty also urged the police not to pursue such a drastic move. — DayakDaily