2004 Budget should announce the raising of the police  starting pay from RM684 to over RM1,000 to correct the racial imbalance by encouraging  more Chinese youths   to join the police force

Speech (2)
at  the  46th National Day Celebrations themed “Defend Secular Malaysia” at the Bukit Bendera  parliamentary constituency
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Wednesday): DAP calls on Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when presenting the 2004 Budget in Parliament on Sept. 12 to announce the raising of the police starting pay from the lowly RM684 to a living wage of over RM1,000 as a key component of the strategy  to correct the racial imbalance in the police force by  encouraging  more Chinese youths to sign up as police personnel. .

The recent revelation by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung in the Chinese press  that there are only 2,221 Chinese or  2.57% in  the 86,159-strong police force was   most shocking, for although everybody knew that the Chinese are under-represented in the police force, nobody had expected the percentage of Chinese participation in the police had plunged so  low to  a miserable 2.57%.

Even more shocking are other statistics from MCA sources  – for instance, that there are only 1,277 Chinese new police recruits or constables, or about 1.8 per cent of the total 68,821 rank and file, although at the officer level, Chinese percentages are  very much higher.

Malaysians are entitled to know when the Chinese percentage in the police force had fallen so low, and the government should release the racial breakdowns in the various police ranks for the years 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000.  Furthermore, the people want explanation as to why the two MCA Deputy Home Ministers in the past eight years since 1995 had failed to take remedial actions to prevent the Chinese ratio in the police force to plunge to 2.57% in the entire police force and 1.8% among the police rank-and-file.

Barisan Nasional leaders, particularly from the MCA, including the MCA President and Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Ong Ka Ting should stop equating police service with “patriotism”, as if suggesting that the Chinese are lacking in patriotism because of their low ratio in the police force. 

Otherwise, let all MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, State Executive Councillors, MPs and State Assembly members, as well as MCA leaders at all national levels declare how many of their children are serving in the police force – and whether absence of enrolment in the police force  is to be equated with unpatriotic attitudes and actions on the part of the MCA leadership? 

It would be more useful and productive for the MCA Ministers to ask the  Cabinet and government to address the root causes for the low Chinese ratio in the police force – some of which have  also resulted in the police finding difficulties in getting Malays of the right calibre to join the police service. Among the important root causes that should be addressed are:

  • Competitive salaries and a living wage for lower police ranks to ensure that they are not tempted to supplement their income with corrupt practices.  The low police wage has not only turned off  Chinese applications, but has started to turn off Malays from the police force as well, as conceded by the New Straits Times editorial (29.8.03) where it said: “In fact, the failure of the two previous recruitment exercises to fill the 4,500 vacancies advertised - there are still 700 to 800 posts vacant - show that not only the Chinese but not enough Malays of the right calibre are attracted to the prospects of working as policemen.”

To tackle the unhealthy phenomenon  of low Chinese participation and  the  trend of decreasing percentage of Malays with  an increasing  percentage of the indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah in the police force and even the armed services, the 2004 Budget should immediately raise the lowest police pay from RM684 to over RM1,000, and a new police salary scheme which is 20 per cent higher than other civil servants as in the case of some countries like Japan, Singapore and Britain because the job involved greater stress and higher risks.  

With the introduction of a living wage and fair salary scale for the police, there must be a new culture of zero tolerance for corruption in the police force and a  total crackdown to wipe out corruption among the police, which is one of the government departments most notorious for corruption.

  • Guarantee of meritocracy in police appointments and promotions, and ending all forms of discrimination and  unfair service conditions, such as promotions not based on performance and ability.

The focus of fair racial balance in the police force  should not be confined to one or two races but to all communites, and  data and statistics for all racial groups in the police force  should be made available to the public, as Malaysian Indians, for instance, would want to know the level of Indian participation at all ranks of the police force, and if there is under-representation, what corrective measures had been  taken to rectify them.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman