Over RM6 million in missing firearms in Malaysia? Well, not the first time though

23 Nov 2023 06:30pm

SHAH ALAM - In a recent revelation, the Auditor-General's Report (LKAN) 2022 has disclosed that departments and agencies under the Home Ministry (KDN) failed to manage and supervise optimally after recording losses of over RM6 million from contractors' failure to supply firearms.

The audit assessment, conducted between Oct 5, 2012, and Nov 11, 2014, published that the police had progressively turned over a variety of outdated and worn-out weapons and accessories. Ironically, these materials were only worth RM1.16 million in Oct 2014.

Malaysian police departments grapple with the widespread problem of missing firearms, exposing a concerning gap of over RM6 million in untracked weaponry. Interestingly, this nation has encountered similar incidents in the past.

The report released by the Auditor General in October of the previous year revealed that the police force had incurred a loss of assets totaling RM1.33 million over the past three years. These losses included 156 units of handcuffs, 44 units of firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 walkie-talkies, 22 radios, six cameras, four computers, one cellphone, and 21 unspecified items.

The national audit reported that between 2010 and 2012, firearms valued at RM1.3 million went missing.

It was also noted that in 2012, out of 95 cases involving missing assets, only two were resolved as the assets were found. In contrast, 17.8 per cent of the 45 cases in 2011 and 43.8 per cent of the 73 cases in 2010 had been resolved and written off.

Furthermore, it was also reported that a surcharge of RM63,346 was slapped on errant officers in 30 missing asset cases from 2010 to 2012, but only RM6,879, or 11 per cent, was collected at the end of 2012.

The report underscored procedural deficiencies in addressing missing assets, including delayed reporting and inadequate information coordination. Despite the imposition of surcharges, only a nominal fraction was collected, pointing to challenges in enforcing accountability.

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The Auditor-General's assessment deemed the police force's management of missing assets unsatisfactory, emphasising the urgency of resolving outstanding cases and enhancing record coordination.

“Besides that, it stated that coordination was needed between the state police contingent headquarters in Bukit Aman and the records there holding data on missing assets and the status of ongoing investigations,” he added.

In a 2013 press conference, the former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, suggested that the missing guns might have "fallen into the sea." This statement seemed to be an attempt to deflect criticism directed at the police, as their accountability for the missing weapons was perceived as lacking.

"The missing firearms might not have ended up in the hands of criminals, but they might have fallen off boats into the water, and it was impossible to retrieve the firearms.

“After an internal investigation, 92 cases involving missing items have been resolved to date, following an internal inquiry. Another 118 cases are still under investigation,” he said at the press conference, as reported by the news portal Malaysiakini.

Khalid added that verifications using the guns' identifying codes had shown that they hadn't been used criminally recently. He emphasised ballistic reports indicating no recent criminal use of the 37 missing guns.

However, he emphasised that they have checked the identification codes of the missing weapons and confirmed that they were not used for any criminal activity recently.

Khalid also said that RM197,984 has been collected thus far from individuals accountable for the missing firearms after they were told to pay for them.

He said the police department takes this situation seriously and is actively looking into it, together with being aware of the inadequacies that need to be solved.

In support of Khalid's statement, former Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that "the guns could get lost in operations" and that there has been no misconduct on the part of the police.

As stated by the Home Ministry in 2013, the guns that were missing from the police inventory were lost, among other places, in the bathroom and not at sea.

Zahid gave five explanations for the police's 44-gun losses between 2010 and 2012 in a written parliamentary reply to Batu MP Tian Chua. One of the reasons was that a gun had been misplaced in the restroom.

There were also cases where police officers have been victims of robberies and snatch thefts, as well as instances in which criminals smashed into police cars and took guns that were left inside.

The written response further stated that weapons were misplaced by cops while they were on duty and that some officers even misplaced their weapons within the office.

Zahid said that seven of the 44 guns had been found, but that revolvers and pistols were the kinds of weapons that were missing.

He added that the guns that went missing were light weapons, such as revolvers and pistols. However, he did not provide the exact value of the missing weapons, stating that the price of each weapon varied depending on the maker.

Zahid, who is now the deputy prime minister, was also questioned about the protocols police adhere to in instances of guns going missing and the measures taken against officers who misplace their weapons.

He responded that the police had established an inquiry committee to investigate the missing assets and had given suggestions on how to prevent it from happening again.

The police's information technology division has begun creating a framework to track and document all occurrences of missing police assets as a preventative measure to deal with future cases of lost guns, he claimed.

Zahid added that the procedure will begin when the asset is lost and continue until an officer determined to be at fault for the asset's loss is subject to disciplinary action.