PETALING JAYA - Malaysian police are the best! This is the perception of almost all the 1,011 households surveyed last year for the World Justice Project's (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2015.
More than 90% of the respondents from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Ipoh said the police always/often act according to the law, respect the basic rights of suspects, and are punished for violating the law.
And in the last question, scoring even higher than respondents in Denmark, Australia and the United Kingdom.
When contacted, WJP's chief research officer Dr Alejandro Ponce said the household response to the perception of police accountability in assessing criminal justice was "raw public opinion" and had not yet been "combined with in-country expert legal surveys" on due process of the law, for the official scores.
In the report published on June 2, Malaysia obtained a total score of 0.57.
It came in 39th place out of the 102 countries surveyed, seven out of 15 in the East Asia and Pacific region and sixth place out of 31 upper middle income countries.
"In this particular case, the higher public opinion of the police is based on perceived performance from a random sample of households," said Dr Ponce.
"Therefore, it is possible that many of the people polled may not be aware of the situations you mention in your e-mail, or that they simply have a bias toward favourable opinion of the police, which is not uncommon.
"We can't tell that definitely from the data but it wouldn't be uncommon for the region."
He was answering questions on the accuracy of the findings because the frequency of public complaints to the media on the police implies otherwise.
"The lower percentages in Australia, Denmark and the UK can be explained mainly because of the perception in those countries that the police are often not punished for violating the rights of minorities and immigrants," added Dr Ponce.
Of the eight factors that make up the Rule of Law Index, Malaysia performed best globally for Order and Security (18th place), Absence of Corruption and Criminal Justice (both ranked 30) and Civil Justice (37), and worst for Fundamental Rights (78) and Open Government (88).
According to the report, Malaysia has not changed much for the better or worse and obtained scores that has kept it in the middle range since 2011.
In the section on problems facing criminal investigative service, a qualified questionnaire that included the opinions of 2,500 legal academics and lawyers, the respondents said the most significant problem was inadequate witness protection, followed by incompetent investigators, prosecutorial independence and corrupt investigators.
As for problems in the criminal justice system, the respondents said the most significant was the delay in cases, followed by judicial independence and inadequate alternate dispute resolution systems.