Special Branch akin to deep-state apparatus, forum told

Chan Kok Leong

UKM Associate Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib says one way of gaining a deeper understanding of the deep state's impact is to interview retired civil servants and former political detainees. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, August 2, 2019.

MORE studies on the impact of the deep state in Malaysia are needed, said an academic today.

“While it’s acknowledged that the British had created a special force – which later became Royal Malaysia Police’s Special Branch – to fight the communists, there exist other forms of the deep state, too,” Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Associate Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib told a forum in Bangi.

“These other deep-state entities could come from established business empires, the civil service or other forms of institutionalised groups.”

To better understand the impact of the deep state, said the Institute of Ethnic Studies (Kita) academic, researchers must conduct further studies.

“One way to do this is to interview retired civil servants and former political detainees.”

Kartini was one of the three panellists at the UKM forum titled “Political Analysis in Malaysia: Between Academia and Mainstream”. The other two were Kita founder Associate Professor Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin and Universiti Sains Malaysia Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian.

Kartini said police’s Special Branch is akin to a deep-state apparatus.

Although the unit was initially established to battle the communist insurgency, she said, it was later used as a tool to keep politicians in check.

“Special Branch was used by the state in the 1980s and controlled the state from within, with the Internal Security Act.”

Quoting activist Kua Kia Soong, she said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had used Special Branch to his advantage by having special files on cabinet members.

“Should Malaysia continue to be tossed and turned by the deep state, like in Op Lalang (in 1987), or as said by Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on the failure (to accede to) the Rome Statute?” – August 2, 2019.

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