History of the Royal Malaysian Police

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The history of Malaysian police traces their existence since the law of Malacca Sultanate in the 1400, then subsequently developed through the history of the nation through administration by the Portuguese, the Dutch, modernisation by the British beginning in the early 1800s, and into the era of Malaysian independence.

Part of a series on the
History of Malaysia
The independence of Malaya and the merger proclamation of North Borneo and Sarawak to formed Malaysia.

First police force in Malacca Sultanate[edit]

The police system started since the days of Malay Sultanate of Malacca. Currently, the role, task and police responsibility are combined with military duties. The Sultan has the absolute authorities. He is also the Judge, Religious Chief and High Command of Military and powerful legislate of the law. Most important rules in the time was Undang-Undang Melaka.

The Prime Minister or Bendahara was the second authorities after the King. He is the Sultan's Advisor, Chief Administrator and may act as Warlord. Tun Perak, titled Bendahara Paduka Raja have led Malaccan soldiers for battle.

Through quotation of Malay Annals, page 142–143:

From an above, Temenggung was call the safeguarding security and peace statewide, including palace grounds. His tasks were to arrest the criminals, build prisons and implement sentences. Nowadays, the Temenggung's authority is similar to current Inspector-General of Police.

Villager chiefs shelf is representative Sultan, have rather respective control team. This team main task are tax collections, law enforcement and care his safeguarding the village.

This traditional police systems were changed when Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese on 10 August 1511, led by Afonso de Albuquerque.

Police force during Portuguese and Dutch Archipelago[edit]

In the year 1511, Malacca became a cosmopolitan society. The Portuguese ruled Malacca by using "Capitan" system.

On 14 January 1641, the Portuguese Empire in Malacca ended when the Dutch fleets successfully conquered Malacca with the help from Johore state military forces, during the Portuguese was battle with Acheh. The Dutch ruled Malacca using military system as well as the Capitan system introduced by the Portuguese. A Dutch police force in Malacca is known as "Burgher Guard" was formed up when the European population was increased and it was necessary to set up a constabulary. Burgher Guard constituted of the Dutch people who are living in Malacca at that time. The lower rank officers were made up of the local Malacca people. Head villagers continued their duties such as in the days of Malay Sultanate Of Malacca under Dutch rule.

Police force under British[edit]

When British took over Malacca in 1795 while the Bangkahulu in Sumatera to Dutch, Captain William Farquhar was elected as the British Military Governor and the Dutch officers remained with their former positions. Allow Malacca Justice Council explains the function as a magistrate at the same time continue police duties "Burgher Guard" have formed at the time.

Police force in Malaya (Penang)[edit]

Lieutenant-General Sir William Farquhar (1808 - 1818)

On 11 August 1786, Francis Light came to Penang and named the island as Prince of Wales Island. The population in Penang at that time was small and Malay fishermen made up most of the population. Three years later, the population increased to 10,000 peoples as more immigrants came to Penang. Francis Light found the need to set up a police force to safeguard the security in Penang. He pleaded his case to his superiors in India but it was not well received.

Later, his superiors promoted to the rank of Superintendent and was instructed to work alone.

In 1787, several riots occurred in Penang. Several European sailors were involved and 2 Siamese were killed. Francis Light wrote a letter to the Governor of General East Indian Company, Sir Lord Cornwallis in India to form new laws and form a single police force in the island but the case was also rejected.

However, with his wisdom, in 1792, Francis Light appointed a community leader, named "Capitan" for each race, Malay, Chinese and Chulia (people from South India). They act as a magistrate in small cases. Certain cases will be carried forward to the Superintendent. Each Capitan is in charge to govern some districts, facilitated with 5 "peons". These peons could be regarded as maiden police constables similar to today lower rank police officers.

Their tasks and responsibilities of the police at that time included a variety of administration control such as water supply, registration of births, fire prevention and jail duties. However, their primary designated job function is executor of the law.

However, the Europeans became increasingly arrogant as they were independent from the local laws. In 1793, when a European got involved in a murder case, Francis Light cannot act because he had no authority to act against the Europeans. He sent another appeal to the English East India Company Director to form an official single police force but to no avail. On 21 October 1794, he died and was replaced by Major Forbes Ross Macdonald in 1796. Later, Col. Arthur Wellesley stopped at Penang during his journey to Manila. He noted the matters in connection with the safety of Penang and urged the Europeans to appoint a magistrate.

On 19 April 1800, Sir George Leith arrived in Penang to hold the new position as Lieutenant-General. Four months later, John Dicken was appointed as Magistrate and the maiden Magistrate in Penang.

In early 1804, Sir William Farquhar arrived in Penang to replace Sir George Leith as the Lieutenant-General. However, the police force at the time was still weak. In the year 1805, all Penang administration was reshuffled again and the island status was enhanced. A Governor was appointed and Council Hall was established.

On 25 March 1807, a "Charter" was accepted. Hereby Penang was able to form a Court Of Justice and form a better police force based on the Charter of Justice.

Straits Settlements Police Forces[edit]

British East Indies Company control of Singapore in 1819 changed the history of Malaya. The island progressed rapidly and Malacca and Penang were left behind. The development also involved the police force. In 1826, the three British colonies in Malaya were united with Penang as the administration centre. In 1830, the Straits Settlements administrations were reduced to residents and were placed under the Bengal Resident when Robert Fullerton became the Resident. Each province is governed by a Deputy Resident. 2 years later, the Straits Settlements were united,this time the administration was headed by a Governor. The administration centre changed to Singapore. The Deputy Residents were appointed as Resident Counselors.

The power exchange of Straits Settlements from India to the British Government in the year 1867, though important to the history of Malaya, did not affect the constitution of Straits Settlements Police Forces immediately. Four years later, Police Force Ordinance 1871 were amended. This ordinance was operative in 1872 and used until the arrival of the Japanese. With effect, all police forces in the Straits settlements were under the control of a chief police headquartered in Singapore. Penang and Malacca were led by a Superintendent who act as the Chief Police officer. The first Police Chief of the Straits was Colonel Samuel Dunlop.

Federated Malay States police forces[edit]

In 1874, the British Resident system was established in the Malaya states, first pioneered by the Perak state. In 1895, four federated Malay states were merged into a federation.

The federation united all the Federated Malay States police forces. The police forces are concurrent with the formation Federated Malay States, effective on 1 July 1896. According to the Federated Malay States Constitution, the police force, Customs, Department Of Survey, Labour and Defence departments are placed under government jurisdiction headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. Federated Malay States Police Force is headed by the Police Commissioner. Perak, Pahang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan made up the Police Contingent and is headed by a State Chief Police (Chief Police Officers). Although Malay Federated States Police Commissioner is responsible for the upper administration and surveillance of the police force but it is still under the control and directive of Malay Associate States Chief Secretary. Section 3, Police Force Enactment (1924) mentioned that,

The first person to be promoted as Federated States Police Commissioner was Captain H.C. Syers, the Superintendent of Selangor State. Syers moved State Police Headquarters from Klang to Kuala Lumpur (Now Bukit Aman) and maintained Bluff Road Hill as Federated Malay States Police Administrations. He was later replaced by Christian Wagner.

Under Captain H.C. Syers, Federated Malay States Police underwent some changes. To raise union sense, the blue colour uniform was introduced. Every state uniform is differentiated by the shape of the button and badge. Syers made the initiative to reform police administration in Perak. Perak contingent at that time had as many as 842 members, 15 European officers, 472 officers, Sikh and Pathan officers, 14 orderlies and 302 low rank officers and Malay constables. In Selangor Contingent, there were 6 European police officers, 32 Pathans and 500 low-rank officer and Malay constables. With the establishment of Malay States Guides under Colonel R.S.F Walker in 1896, the strength of the police force was increased to six infantry companies and two artillery companies (900 members).[1]

The Pahang Police Chief was Duff and the team had 245 members. F.W. Talbot also led the Negeri Sembilan Contingent. There were two inspectors, 56 Sikhs officers and 250 low ranks and Malay constables. Around the year 1902, police force had 2160 people, three Deputy Commissioners, two assistant commissioners, 25 inspectors, 2 Bumiputera officers, 1961 low rank officers and constables, 93 detectives and 14 orderlies. Meanwhile, the members of the Selangor and Pahang Police Contingent were armed with Martini-Enfield Converted Carbines. Other states also armed with Martini rifles and carbines.

Following the year in 1903, Federated Malay States Police was truly under the command of the police commissioner. These efforts were drawn up by H.L. Talbot who strived to redirect power of the state level to the central through the Police Force Enactment 1903.

One problem faced by the Federated Malay States Police was to get trained members. Before that, police members usually are recruited from the Indian army. To tackle the problem, a training centre or Depot was established at the compound Bluff Road in October 1903.

To change the view of police and to encourage the Malays to serve with the police force, the British used loyalist values to King that the Malays had. For that, Sultan Alang lskandar, prince of Sultan Idris from Perak graduated from Oxford, who worked in Taiping Secretariat was appointed as Assistant Commissioner on 1 August 1905 with the consent of Paduka Sultan Perak. Sultan Alang Iskandar was the first Malay to be given the highest rank by the British. He was then placed in Police Depot and given the responsibility to recruiting the Malay police officers. Sultan Alang Iskandar made a lot of effort to attract the Malays to serve in the police force. 37 years later, the training centre was moved to Rifle Range Road at St Pride, currently known as PULAPOL (Police Training Centre) at Semarak Road.

When Talbot died on 31 August 1909, Douglas remained as the police commissioner. Douglas was Perak's Police Chief since 1897.

In 1911, Federated Malay States Police had increased. Within a decade, the membership increased from 2,138 to 3,241 officers. Europeans official number also increased and 41 peoples become 72 peoples. The problem faced by the police at the time was gambling within the Chinese community which was also connected with candhu.

On 9 January 1924, Police Force Enactment was enforced. This enactment was more organised and clearly stated the roles and responsibilities of the Federated Malay States Police.

With eruption of World War II and Malaya conquered by the Japanese, the Federated Malay States Police was liquidated. The last Police Chief, E. Bagot, absconded to Singapore after British defence forces failed to detain Japanese army advancement. When Singapore fell to the Japanese, E Bagot was captured.[2]

Malayan Police under by Imperial Japanese Armed Force[edit]

The World War II exploded in the year 1939 and conditions in Malaya worsened when Japan conquered Indo-Chinese area. Minimum measures were taken by the British Government to uphold Malaya. A.H. Dickinson, the Straits Settlement Police Chief was appointed to be Civil Security Officer in Malaya. He was responsible in arranging Malayan defence to confront against Imperial Japanese Army threats.

In Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, Special Constable and Extra Police Constable was established, additional constables were recruited to strengthen the police force. Police forces in Kedah, Perak and Kelantan were ordered to patrol in the border areas of Malaya / Thailand. At the same time, anti-British groups had stepped up their subversive activities. Anti-British campaigns were carried out especially through two newspapers those owned by Malayan Communist Party such as, EMANCIPATION NEWS and VANGUARD NEWS.

On 9 December 1941, an Imperial Japanese forces successfully landed in Kelantan and Terengganu. Japanese forces advanced successfully into Malayan soil as the police forces were not united as Singapore has fallen to the Japanese.

Japanese occupation period was the dark time in the development of police institution in Malaya. The Japanese had built a military administration in Malaya. Police force continued to function but it was used as a device system by the Japanese to oppress the people.

Malayan Union Police[edit]

By year end 1945 and early 1946, the British side tried to set up a constitution of "Malayan Union" that has been planned in London. Although there were violent oppositions for this plan considered as efforts exchange Malay states position to a country home, this plan discharged at 1 April 1946. In accordance with this development, on the same date name "Civil Affairs Police Force, Malay Peninsula" was converted to Malayan Union Police Force. Staff, policy and organisation it make follow-up from what were founded under CAPE HB Longworthy appointed as Police Chief and his deputy is DP MacNamara.

Police in Malayan Emergency[edit]

The Federation of Malayan Police officers inspections the civilian during the Malayan Emergency.

When the withdrawal of Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II left the Malayan economy disrupted. Problems included unemployment, low wages, and scarce and expensive food. There was considerable labour unrest, and a large number of strikes occurred in 1946 through 1948. The British administration was attempting to repair Malaya's economy quickly, especially as revenue from Malaya's tin and rubber industries was important to Britain's own post-war recovery. As a result, protesters were dealt with harshly, by measures including arrests and deportations. In turn, protesters became increasingly militant. On 16 June 1948, the first overt act of the war took place when three European plantation managers were killed at Sungai Siput, Perak.[3]

The British brought emergency measures into law, first in Perak in response to the Sungai Siput incident and then, in July, country-wide. Under the measures, the MCP and other leftist parties were outlawed, and the police were given the power to imprison without trial communists and those suspected of assisting communists. The initial government strategy was primarily to guard important economic targets such as mines and plantation estates. Subsequently, General Sir Harold Briggs, the British Army's Director of Operations in Malaya, developed an overall strategy known as the Briggs Plan. Its central tenet was that the best way to defeat an insurgency such as the government was facing was to cut the insurgents off from their supporters amongst the population.

At the start of the Emergency, the British had a total of 13 infantry battalions in Malaya, including seven partly formed Gurkha battalions, three British battalions, two battalions of the Royal Malay Regiment and a British Royal Artillery Regiment being utilised as infantry.[4] At all levels of government (national, state, and district levels), the military and civil authority was assumed by a committee of military, police and civilian administration officials. This allowed intelligence from all sources to be rapidly evaluated and disseminated, and also allowed all anti-guerrilla measures to be coordinated.

Royal Honored[edit]

On 24 July 1958, DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhamad already design to bestow title "Royal" to the Federal Malaya Police Force. From the second police force; is known with the name "Royal Federation Of Malayan Police".

Willing royal command by DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Agong, investiture "Royal" that make a distinction to good service and loyalty evinced by all policemans, in officiate protect peace and state peace since create the police force year 1807 in Penang.

Investiture "Royal" also is an appreciation Government and people this country on central role and whose interests played by a police team to suppress communists during rebellion first emergency first (1948–1960). The conferment by the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Rahman Tuanku Muhamad to the police force 50 years ago was to recognise the people and country’s appreciation of the police for their loyalty, determination, struggle and sacrifice during the 12 years of communist insurgency between 1948 and 1960.

During the conferment, the King declared the change of name of the police from the Federation Police Force to the Royal Malayan Federation Police. Among those present during the conferment parade by 700 police officers and men held at the Police Training Centre in Jalan Gurney were then Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Dato' Abdul Razak Hussin, Police Commissioner, W.L.R. Carbonell, Deputy Commissioner, C.H. Fenner and Singapore Police Commissioner, A.E.G. Bladers.

It was a proud moment for the police force as the title was considered a great honour at that time, as there were only three other police forces in the Commonwealth that had been conferred the "Royal" title.

The others were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Royal Ulster Police Force and the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.

The spirit to defend till their last breath for the safety and sovereignty of the country from the communist was quite remarkable even though most of them were from rural areas.

Police records show a total of 1,346 policemens were killed in the line of duty while 10,698 communist members were killed, of which 5,972 were killed by the police force. The police, being the main law enforcement agency in the country were tasked during the Emergency period to combat and foil attempts by the communist party wanting to set up a communist state via the use of force and firearms.[5]

The concept of "Bersedia Berkhidmat" (English: Ready To Serve) are introduced by Federations of Malay State Police Commissioner, Sir Arthur Young on 15 December 1952. Through his directive, Police Commissioner Directive No.36, year 1952: "Operation Service", A E YOUNG stresses police approach towards people and create understanding on both sides. He also hoped by concept "Ready To Serve" this, team negative views can be scraped vice versa honoured.


  1. ^ "The Malay States Guides - a Brief History". Ipoh World. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Federated Malay States Police history
  3. ^ Andaya, Barbara Watson; Leonard Y. Andaya (2001). A History of Malaysia. Palgrave. p. 271. 
  4. ^ Karl Hack, Defense & Decolonization in South-East Asia, p. 113.
  5. ^ "Royal' day for police force". thestar.com.my. The Star. 24 July 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2009.