Timely reminder by law minister — Hafiz Hassan

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MAY 3 — De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan has spoken: the law is clear on the matter of police appointments, where Article 140 of the Federal Constitution states the Police Force Commission (PFC) has authority over promotions, discipline, welfare and other matters regarding the force. 

Perhaps it should be recalled that when PFC was first established under the Federal Constitution, it was named the Police Service Commission (PSC) under Article 140(1) which read as follow:

“There shall be a Police Service Commission, whose jurisdiction shall, subject to Article 144, extend to all persons who are members of the police service.”

A constitutional amendment in 1960 amended Article 140 and renamed the PSC to PFC whose jurisdiction also became more elaborate. The amendment came into force on April 1, 1961.

Article 140(1) now provides that the PFC's jurisdiction “shall extend to all persons who are members of the police force and which, subject to the provisions of any existing law, shall be responsible for the appointment, confirmation, emplacement on the permanent or pensionable establishment, promotion, transfer and exercise of disciplinary control over members of the police force.”

Article 140(3)(a) provides that “the Minister for the time being charged with responsibility for the police” shall be the chairperson of PFC. Thus, Takiyuddin is right that the Federal Constitution "clearly says the PFC must be chaired by the minister in charge of the police who in this context is the home minister, so let no one question the matter."

Minister in the Prime Minsiter’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan speaks to the media at the Baling District office, December 20, 2020. — Bernama pic
Minister in the Prime Minsiter’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan speaks to the media at the Baling District office, December 20, 2020. — Bernama pic

However, Article 140(7) states that the word “transfer” in clause (1) above does not include transfer without change of rank within the police force. Clause (7) was inserted into Article 140 by the 1960 constitutional amendment.

It is therefore clear that the legislature (Parliament), when it amended Article 140 sixty years ago, did not intend that the PFC should be responsible for the transfer of members of the police force if the transfer involved no change of rank within the force.

Article 140 also provides for the appointment of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and his deputy (DIGP). Both IGP and DIGP are special posts designated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA). Both are appointed by the YDPA on the recommendation of the PFC but the YDPA must consider the advice of the Prime Minister.

Now, the IGP has the command of the police force by section 4(1) of the Police Act 1967 (Act 344). By the same provision, the IGP has the control and direction of the force and all other persons appointed or engaged for police duties. He is, however, made responsible to the Home Minister so that the minister can accordingly answer to Parliament. 

Act 344 is a law relating to the organisation, discipline, powers and duties of the police force and which the Constitution empowers Parliament to make for the exercise of disciplinary control over the force.

Reading Article 140 and Act 344 together, it is clear that while the PFC is responsible for the promotion of police officers, its jurisdiction does not extend to placement of police officers within the force or to transfers of police officers unless the transfer involves a change of rank.

The IGP is rightly the authority to decide on placement and transfer of police officers (without a change of rank) within the force.

So it is a timely reminder by the de facto law minister that when the law establishes an office, it sets out the jurisdiction of the office and its office holder(s).

No one office should be meddling or interfering with another.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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