With the new government taking charge on 11th November 2008, it is certain that the strategic leadership at MPS would undergo some major changes. This in fact is crucial for the MDP led coalition government, given the important role police plays in the nation. Police are responsible for the internal security of the nation; prevention and investigation of crime and the maintenance of public peace and harmony. The outgoing government had CP Adam Zahir in-charge of the police function for almost two decades now. MPS have always been finger-pointed for being politicized, heavy-handed, being used as a tool to repress opposition figures, voices and actions. Therefore, to replace or retain the existing Commissioner of Police would be one among the new government’s important decisions to make.
Do we need this change?
If change was what the incoming government promised to the people, then change it must be. As highlighted above, the role police play is crucial and in my view more crucial (in the current security context) than of the MNDF, especially at this transitional stage. MPS has been embedded with a culture that does not suit to a democracy. Therefore, it hinders the full functionality of the organization which ultimately affects its customers i.e. the public, and damages their trust and confidence in MPS. The current culture in MPS as I have highlighted in my commentaries, is traditional, too hierarchical, militaristic and organization centered. What we need to have in place is, a change oriented and visionary leadership, less hierarchical structure, discretionary police officers, customer focused approach, more accountability and transparency and above all, an overarching modern philosophy of policing that is not rhetoric but put into action and that can also be measured.
Who would become the Commissioner of Police in Mohamed Nasheed’s government? This is the question that is on every police officer’s mind these days. There are ongoing rumors within the circles of MPS that I would like to discuss here.
Rumor 1: Mohamed Nasheed wants CP Adam Zahir to remain in the post.
My opinion: Highly unlikely.
Rumor 2: Given the ties ACP Abdulla Riyaz has with Mr. Qasim Ibrahim, he is the strongest candidate to become the successor of CP Adam Zahir.
My opinion: Probable. Leave aside the ties. Being the most “blessed” and also one of the most capable senior officers at MPS, ACP Riyaz has the potential to take over. The question is whether the new government would take him as the RIGHT officer to put in-charge!
Rumor 3: SDCP (Retired) Ibrahim Latheef being called in for the job.
My opinion: Probable and recommended. Currently based in Perth, Australia, Ibrahim Latheef is well qualified for the job. The experience and academic credentials that he holds, puts him in a much stronger position than ACP Riyaz to lead MPS. While the reasons for his resignation are still unclear to me, there are many who believe that Ibrahim Latheef could steer MPS in the right direction of modern policing.
If this is my call …
I have two recommendations for the MDP led coalition government on the issue of putting a leader at MPS. If my recommendations are incompatible with the existing Police Act, then I suggest the necessary amendments be made.
Bring in a totally new person into MPS, who has a strong academic, leadership background and vast experience in public service. He/She has to be a no-nonsense, change oriented and a person with good temperament and judgment.
Hire a foreign senior police officer from the UK or Australia for a term of 4 years to fill in the post of the commissioner. His responsibility must be to over haul the current structures and change the managerial and cultural philosophy in MPS that would suit for a democratic police set up. During his tenure he would have to identify a senior officer that he would mentor to take over from him.
It has been a practice in recent times to borrow or hire highly professional police officers from overseas. One case is of an Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Andy Hughes who took charge as the Commissioner of Police of the Fiji Police Force.
My rationale for these two recommendations is articulated above, under the sub heading: Do we need this change. What I believe is, with the existing leadership in MPS, it would be difficult to implement much needed changes. MPS had the opportunity to foster its organizational and policing philosophy, but it was not received or taken well. For me, so far the change that MPS’ leaders talk about is mere cosmetic and never truly happened. It is understandable that change is not an easy thing to bring in. MPS became a separate entity in September 2004 and has achieved significant advancements. What it has not achieved so far is public trust and confidence. Professional, impartial and ethical policing services are not resembled by our vehicles, uniform, gear or technology, nor FBI Academy graduates. Now that the people who have most alleged MPS of being politicized are in power, the government represented by this people need to bring in these changes. To start with, put the right people in charge at this right time to steer MPS at the right direction.