Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday he had sent a letter for the king’s signature to appoint Abdul Hamid Bador as Malaysia’s new police chief to succeed Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who is set to retire on May 4.
Abdul Hamid, the current deputy inspector-general of police (IGP), appears poised to lead the national police department three years after the previous government ousted him from the force. He was removed after speaking out against the 1MDB corruption scandal, which overshadowed then-Prime Minister Najib Razak and led to his and his party’s downfall last year.
“Yes, I think Abdul Hamid is the new IGP,” Mahathir said in confirming that he had submitted the senior policeman’s name to the king for his consent as required.
“I think that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the king) has signed the appointment letter,” the prime minister told reporters during federal-level Labor Day celebrations at the Putrajaya International Convention Center.
Once the king signs, Abdul Hamid, who turns 61 this year, will take over from Fuzi as IGP. Fuzi is retiring effective Saturday, his 60th birthday and the mandatory retirement age for police.
Mahathir announced that Abdul Hamid, who already has reached retirement age, would have a special contract to hold the post. The IGP is considered a political position appointed by the prime minister or government leaders, and requires the king’s consent. Najib appointed Fuzi as police chief in September 2017.
Mahathir took office in May 2018 after his Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition pulled off an electoral upset over Najib’s ruling Barisan Nasional bloc on a pledge of cleaning up government, among other campaign promises.
Abdul Hamid’s post-electoral return to the federal police as head of the Special Branch was considered a break from tradition as no official announcement was made. The Special Branch is the intelligence arm of the Royal Malaysia Police.
In March, Abdul Hamid was appointed as acting deputy IGP following the retirement of Nor Rashid Ibrahim.
While heading the special branch, he was part of the 1MDB task force that oversaw several police raids and seizures of property connected to the scandal tied to the 1Malaysia Berhad Development state fund, including a superyacht that was owned by fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho (alias Jho Low). Mahathir’s government recently sold the yacht and is seeking to capture and extradite Low back to Malaysia to face criminal charges connected to 1MDB.
U.S. prosecutors contend that $4.5 billion (18.3 billion ringgit) was diverted from 1MDB into the bank accounts of Najib, his friends and family, in what they described as “kleptocracy at its worst.” Najib, who has denied any wrongdoing, is standing trial on seven corruption charges and faces a total of 42 criminal charges linked to 1MDB.
On Wednesday, the Straits Times reported that there had been ongoing discussions over who would succeed Fuzi because the Home Ministry and police had backed different candidates.
The Home Ministry supported Zulkifli Abdullah, director-general of the National Anti-Drugs Agency, while the police force backed Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, head of the Internal Security and Public Order Department, sources told the Singapore-based newspaper. Both men are 58 – younger than the mandatory retirement age.
Zulkifli who took over as leader the anti-drugs agency following a directive from Mahathir in August 2018, had served as director of the federal police’s Internal Security and Public Order Department.
Abdul Hamid’s background
From 1998 to 2000, Abdul Hamid held the rank of superintendent and deputy district police chief at the Gombak police district headquarters.
He served as a negotiator in February and March 2013, when Malaysian security forces put down an insurrection in eastern Sabah state by about 200 fighters from Sulu – a neighboring province in the southern Philippines – who identified themselves as the Royal Army of Sulu and followers of the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III.
In 2015, while serving as the deputy director of the Special Branch, he advised Najib’s government to explain the 1MDB allegations clearly and for those involved to come forward.
After speaking out, he was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department in Najib’s government in September 2015, but opted for early retirement. He returned to police work following Najib’s departure from the top office last May.