In 2019, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) found that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were victims of enforced disappearance by members of the Special Branch. Both abductions were conducted by a professional force, indicating extra-judicial action above the law. The Special Branch, a secretive division within the Royal Malaysian Police Force (PDRM), is responsible for collecting and processing security intelligence to preserve the law and order of the public and maintain Malaysia’s peace and security.
Originally focused on communist insurgents and unionists, the branch has expanded to opposition politicians, NGOs, and activists. With 10,000 employees and 10-15 thousand informers operating across the country, the Special Branch operates surveillance, intelligence gathering, and infiltration operations across all aspects of Malaysian society, including religious organizations, mosques, churches, universities, state and federal civil services, government agencies, local government, NGOs, media organizations, social activists, and even the Royal households.
To make the Special Branch more accountable, it is essential to increase transparency and accountability in the country’s security intelligence.
The Special Branch of the Malaysian police force is responsible for attending public meetings, gatherings, press conferences, and events, including overseas locations. It has a budget exceeding RM 500 million, including funds for secret and sensitive operations. To better serve Malaysia’s complex society with specific national security threats, it is necessary to break the Special Branch away from the PDRM. This would allow the organization to have its own charter and be accountable to external branches of government, such as parliament or executive. The new charter would allow judicial reviews of the Special Branch’s operations.
Breaking away from the PDRM would make the Special Branch more accountable and keep it in check. It should not be allowed to hide within the PDRM structure and should be allowed to grow independently to meet the needs of a modern Malaysia. This would enhance the Special Branch’s ability to meet the nation’s growing national security needs.