Former inspector-general of police Musa Hassan claimed today the police force under him faced interference from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

At a press conference in Petaling Jaya, Musa said Hishammuddin had once given instructions directly to junior police officers and a district police chief without his knowledge.

NONE“So, I highlighted to him (Hishammuddin) Section 4 (1) of the Police Act (1967, which says) that the command and control of the police is by the IGP and not the minister.

“Of course, I cannot be rude to him as (he is) a minister. I talked to him nicely. He didn’t like it,” said Musa.

He was responding to a question from the media on whether he had faced hindrance from Hishammuddin during his time as the country’s top cop. Musa retired in September 2010.

The press conference was called by Malaysian Crime Watch Task Force (MyWatch), with which Musa serves as patron.

Asked again if Hishammuddin reacted negatively to the exchange, Musa replied: “I think so. That is why (my contract) was not extended.”

No grudge

However, Musa was quick to add that this was not a case of “sour grapes” and neither was he raising the issue now because of a grudge he had with the home minister.

NONE“I am very happy with my retirement. You can get others to do it (run the police force), but do it properly. Take care of the security of this country, the people and society. That is the most important thing,” he said.

Nevertheless, he pointed out that a certain minister, alluding to Hishammuddin, still appeared to be by-passing the IGP and issuing instructions directly to police officers, and he based this on news reports quoting the said minister.

“You read the papers, sometimes you hear: ‘I have directed police to do this’, ‘I have directed the police to do that’. I think you know (laughs),” he said.

Additionally, Musa said other politicians and “top people” have also tried to interfere in the arrest of certain criminals.

“I can give an example. Whenever I arrest some crooks who are involved in illegal activities, there would be phone calls for me to release them. From top people, you know,” he said, adding  that it happened quite often.

Unlawful instructions

When asked how he handled such incidents, Musa said that he would not execute the instruction if it was unlawful.

“I just tell them ‘I cannot take action because it is against the law’. Okay? I can only take lawful orders as an IGP, under Section 20 (2) of the Police Act (1967), the police must only take lawful orders.

“You have to inform back to your superiors that it is an unlawful order. ‘Very sorry, no action will be taken’. If he still insists (I’ll say) ‘Can you please give it to me in black and white, because I won’t be responsible after that’,” he said.

Musa said that this applied even if the instruction came from the prime minister.

However, he said that his insistence on a written instructions usually dissuades his immediate superiors - the home minister and his deputy.

“When I say black and white, normally they stop,” he said.

Altantuya case: No interference

To another question, Musa said there was no political interference during investigations on the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006.

"There were no intereference, or else I won’t be investigating my own people and Razak Baginda," he said.

Abdul Razak Baginda, known for his close ties with then deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak, was acquitted in 2008 of abetting two police personnel in Altantuya's murder.

The two police personnel - Sirul Azha Umar and Azilah Hadri - were convicted of murder in 2009 and sentenced to hang. Their hearing at the Court of Appeal has been postponed twice.

At the time, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was both prime minister and home minister.

On the sidelines of the Umno general assembly, Hishammuddin was approached by reporters on Musa’s revelations, but he declined comment.

“I don’t know... Let me check... I do not want people to have any wrong perception,” he said.