DAP calls for open apology from IGP for the gross lack of police professionalism in causing grave embarrassment to the  DPM/Home Minister by advising him to give completely wrong figures on   Malaysia’s policemen:population ratio  as compared  with developed countries

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaTuesday): The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai should openly apologise for the gross lack of police professionalism in causing grave embarrassment to the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, by advising him to give completely wrong figures about Malaysia’s policemen:population ratio as compared with developed countries. 

Speaking to reporters at the Pulapah, the police training centre, at Jempol, Negri Sembilan in the presence of Norian Mai on Saturday, Abdullah made two announcements which were wrong or baseless: 

  • The government has agreed to recruit 23,000 more police personnel at various levels to beef up the force over the next two years; and
  • Malaysia’s aim to catch up with the policemen:population ratio of developed countries which is one to 300 people as compared to the country’s ratio of one to 3,000 people.

The next day, Abdullah corrected the first mistake and clarified that the 23,000 police recruits would be taken into the police force in the next five years, and not in the next two years.   

In fact, Norian Mai had announced during the 195th Police Day in March this year the intake of 23,000 additional personnel for the police force in the next five years  to “beef up its strength, improve efficiency and professionalism” although he said that the additional manpower would be mostly employed for two purposes: (i) in investigative work as investigators were overloaded with work resulting in delays in completing investigations into all types of cases, especially those involving Criminal Investigations and Commercial Crime Divisions; and (ii) to strengthen the General Operations Force to meet current needs, especially in dealing with large gatherings. 

There has however been no correction about Abdullah’s second mistake, which contained two errors - about Malaysia’s policemen-population ratio and those of developed countries. 

Abdullah’s statement that Malaysia aims to close the gap between its policemen: population ratio with the developed countries is most startling, as it raised the question whether the government is seriously thinking of increasing the police force ten times from the present 80,000 to 800,000 personnel – which would make the Malaysian police force almost equal to the present entire civil service of 850,000!

If Malaysia expands its police force to some ten  times its present strength, then Malaysia would  comparatively  have the world’s  biggest police force in the world and  the lowest policemen:population ratio, although this would have no correlation as to whether Malaysia would have a low crime rate and the people can go about their lives without being in great fear of crime. 

Abdullah’s figures of policemen:population ratio for Malaysia and the developed countries were very  wrong, for the following reasons: 

Firstly, With 80,000 police personnel for a population of 22 million, Malaysia’s policemen:population ratio is in the region of 1:275 and not 1:3000. 

Secondly, it is completely baseless to claim that Malaysia’s policemen:population ratio is about ten times unfavourable  than the developed countries, as if it could justifiy or explain the general deterioration of the sense of public safety and security by the people when going about their ordinary business whether in the streets, public spaces or in their homes.  If we aim to increase our police strength by ten times, we will reach a ridiculous  ratio of some 28 people to one policeman – which is unheard-of ratio in the world, making Malaysia the top police state in the world! 

In fact, Malaysia’s policemen:population ratio is generally better than most developed countries as illustrated by the Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice System (1998-2000), which give the following figures: 

Total Police Personnel (2000) 

Country         Police Count            Rate per 100,000     police:population ratio 

Australia         42,047                        218.99                        1:457

Canada           56,020                        181.88                        1:550

Denmark         10,414                        195.16                        1:512


  Wales         123,826                        233.88                        1:429

Finland             8,166                        157.74                        1:633

France           124,284                        211.01                        1:474

Germany        240,000                        291.97                        1:343

Hong Kong       33,072                        486.57                        1:206

India           1,032,956 (1999)             103.50                        1:966

Ireland            11,642                        306.85                        1:326

Italy              322,800                        559.45                        1:179

Japan            230,756                        181.70                        1:550

South Korea     90,210                        190.72                        1:524

Malaysia          82,383                        353.58                        1:283

Netherlands     31,575                         198.58                        1:504

Norway           11,134                         247.92                        1:403

Portugal          49,119                         491.19                        1:204

Spain             115,656                         292.80                       1:342

Switzerland      14,500                         201.95                        1:495

Thailand         215,450                        354.94                        1:282

United States 677,933 (1999)               243.86                        1.410

From the above data, Malaysia has a better policeman:population ratio at 1:282  than the majority of developed countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, England/Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United States except for three, viz: Italy, Portugal and Hong Kong. 

But such favourable policeman:population ratio has not given Malaysians a greater sense of public security and citizen safety, which in recent times have plunged into crisis proportion with general loss of public confidence in the ability of the government to discharge the  most basic function of all forms of government through the ages – citizen security and protection from crime. 

CID Director Comm Datuk Seri Salleh said yesterday that just in the first five months of the year, an average of four women were raped daily while there were three murders every two days in the country, with Selangor, Johor and Kedah topping the list, or 250 murders and 588 rapes during the period.  For last year, there were 516 reported cases of murder and 1,431 cases of rape. 

What the CID Director had unveiled is only the “tip of the iceberg” of the crime situation, especially for sex crimes, as it is generally agreed, whether  by  women organizations like the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) or  the Minister for Women and Family Development, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, that for every reported rape case, nine went unreported. 

The brutal Canny Ong abduction-rape-murder should be a watershed for the  crisis of rising crime rate and rising fear of crime as well as the unprofessional and unsatisfactorty policing in Malaysia, with  a robust and sustained public debate and demand for  fundamental police reforms to effectively  protect the homes, streets, public spaces and the personal safety of Malaysians. 

From a comparison with the police:population ratio of developed countries, Malaysia is not greatly understaffed in police personnel – which could only mean that there had been considerable lack of police professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness as well as  misdeployment of the police personnel and resources to protect the political  regime instead of protecting Malaysians and  the streets, public spaces and homes to reduce crime and the fear of crime. 

This is why the brutality and the unprofessional police handling of the Canny Ong case must not be allowed to fade away from public attention until the occurrence of another heinous crime –why Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political affiliation should unite and stand up to say “Enough is Enough” to both the high level of crime and high level of fears about crime in the country, and demand an effective police agenda to reduce crime  and fears about crime involving  close community and citizen  oversight and monitoring of police progress.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman