KUALA LUMPUR: The country may, for the first time, see two “deputy sheriffs” in its 120,000-strong police force.
The Royal Malaysia Police, which has in recent days been undergoing a major reshuffling to strengthen its line-up, may also see the establishment of a new department — the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).
The idea behind the move to set up this 11th department in Bukit Aman was to strengthen the country’s preparedness and enhance the police force’s capabilities to counter the increasingly intense global threats of terrorism from which Malaysia is not excluded.
Sources told the New Straits Times that the second deputy inspector-general of police’s post is likely to be filled by Special Branch (SB) chief Datuk Seri Fuzi Harun.
Fuzi, 58, who has more than 25 years’ experience, assumed the SB director’s position in July 2015.
His vast experience in counter-terrorism includes his years as a director in the Special Task Force on operations and counter-terrorism.
He was Bukit Aman’s management director before becoming the acting deputy inspector-general of police following the retirement of Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Zinin on Sept 5, 2014.
A highly-placed source told the NST that the best candidate to lead the CTD was likely to be a senior cop who has been “eating, sleeping and breathing” counter-terrorism in his many years in the force — Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, Bukit Aman’s Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) principal assistant director.
“The establishment of this new department is timely, especially when terror threats are growing in this region. The country needs more trained personnel to keep Malaysia safe from radicalism and extremism, including the war against the Islamic State group,” the source said.
He revealed that under the current arrangement, which is far from desirable, the E8 Division has to make do with a handful of officers only in each state as it worked to keep terror threats at bay.
The CTD, when it materialises, will likely come with a little more than 500 personnel.
Currently, the E8 runs on roughly 200 personnel, who double up in their job descriptions.
They, among others, investigate terror financing, carry out rehabilitation, monitor threats and the players involved, and engage the community to prevent radicalism.
Many of them, who are ground operatives, also double up as investigating officers in other cases.
“This, in particular, is a huge challenge as these intelligence officers should not be exposed, but the issue of limited resources has forced them to do this,” the source said.
With the likelihood of Fuzi being promoted to the No. 2 post in the force, three names have emerged as likely candidates for SB chief.
One of them is Datuk Mohd Haniff Hanuddin, who is Federal Special Branch deputy director (1).
The other is Datuk Zamri Yahya, who served with the Special Branch in Melaka and Pahang before being promoted as management (service/employment) deputy director on Dec 14, 2010, with the rank of deputy commissioner of police.
He was also a former Kedah police chief.
Zamri is the Malaysian government security director-general under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff, who is due for retirement soon, is also a possible candidate.
The former Johor police chief was appointed as Bukit Aman Narcotics Department director in March 2015.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had last month spoken about beefing up the Bukit Aman mechanism in the fight against terror, saying that an “anti-terrorism unit” in the federal police would be part of the country’s security enhancement drive.
The move, he said, would come with increased personnel.
The home minister, in announcing the move, said he believed prevention was better than cure and that the upgrading would allow counter-terrorism operatives to be in a better position to face terrorism.