Top Malaysian Cop Accuses Home Minister of Political Spying

Special Branch spies on political enemies? Who knew?

Malaysia’s former top cop, Inspector General of Police Mohammed Hamid Bador, opened up a secret hiding in plain sight when last week he accused the home minister, Hamzah Zainuddin (above), of trying to use the police Special Branch unit – its intelligence unit – to spy on his political enemies.

Hamid, who retired recently, accused Hamzah of, among other things, attempting to force the retirement of the current head of the special branch unit in order to install his own ally until the order was countermanded by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. The affair has kicked off growing public wrath as well as calls for Hamzah’s ouster as home minister.  Hamid was later joined by former IGP Musa Hassan, who headed the royal police during the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who said senior police officers were often forced to bypass protocol to execute orders from politicians.

Hamid has thus set off a national debate, not just because of the allegations of the home minister’s attempts to misuse the agency, but over Special Branch’s activities.  The fact is that the intelligence unit has been collecting information on political opponents of the government – not to mention its friends – for decades. Their cameras and microphones reportedly have recorded the peccadillos of tycoons, politicians, religious figures, and businessmen as a tool against what are perceived to be the country’s enemies including foreign journalists and Malaysian dissidents…

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