The cry for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission is long overdue and yet the Home Ministry feigns ignorance each time police brutality makes the news.
This country desperately needs to get rid of cops who in fact are thugs at work, abusing the rakyat at their whims and fancies. The episode where a Bersih 3.0 participant was whacked for voluntarily confessing that he had participated in the April 28 protest has brought irrevocable shame and damage to the force .
Mohd Safuan Mamat, 24, a Bersih supporter turned up at the Dangi Wangi police station on May 14 to give a statement concerning his involvement in Bersih 3.0. Instead, he ended up fearing for dear life when the cops there turned violent when Mohd Safuan refused to “colloborate” with the cops that he had smashed a police car during the riot.
The manner in which Mohd Safuan was treated by the police is worrying. After giving his statement, he was taken to the lock-up behind the station, handcuffed and detained for the night.
When he refused to be party to a lie, he was allegedly beaten up, first by the cops, and then by the prisoners.
It seems that the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) has no intention of serving and protecting the rakyat in the right sense of the word. This is contrary to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comments that the police would only turn aggressive if provoked.
And what does the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar has to say about the “we can whack anyone we want” modus operandi adopted by the police?
On May 14, Ismail said the resolution passed by the Bar Council in an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on May 11 was prejudiced and had punished the police force.
He said the Bar Council had to be more transparent in making conclusion on the Bersih 3.0 rally held in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.
But then looking at the far from impressive track record of the PDRM and the beating meted out to a Bersih 3.0 participant, what prejudice is Ismail talking about?
The cry for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is long overdue and yet the Home Ministry feigns ignorance each time police brutality makes the news.
For how long will Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein delude himself that the country’s police force is one to be reckoned with?
Despite the police having the rakyat’s blood on their hands, the federal government is not perturbed and seems to be “supporting” the PDRM in not “sparing the rod”. Is this the hallmark of a democratic nation, where its people have no recourse to their fundamental rights?
Cannot bully rakyat
It is becoming a fashion with the PDRM to bully those who dare challenge authority in the pursuit of truth.
Take, for instance, the May 10 nuisance created by an NGO called Malaysia Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Alliance (Ikhlas) when it set up a stall outside Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga’s house to protest the April 28 Bersih rally.
Ikhlas claimed the rally affected their livelihood, making a rather far-fetched allegation that burger stall owners had suffered losses amounting to RM200,000 due to the rally, concentrated in certain parts of the federal capital.
To Deputy Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, that is hardly any reason for Ambiga to get upset. His defence has added to the shame the PDRM has earned for itself.
Khalid had said it was not wrong to sit in front of anyone’s house provided they did not disturb the occupants of the dwelling. He added that there was nothing wrong with protesting outside a person’s house as long as the occupants are not disturbed.
“What offence? If you want to sit in front of her [Ambiga’s] house without disrupting other people, there is no offence.
“As long as they don’t commit any offence such as trespassing on private property, we will not take action,” Khalid had said.
Then came a bunch of 15 ill-mannered and rowdy men, believed to be retired army veterans, who staged vulgar aerobics by showing their bottoms – protesting the April 28 rally – in front of Ambiga’s house.
They also chanted “Hidup Polis dan Hidup BN” and dared her to sue them, or else they would return in bigger numbers.
The group of veterans then resorted to performing a strange form of aerobics by showing their bottoms.
While the police were present near Ambiga’s house, they decided to play by-standers, displaying their illiterateness over laws that being were flouted.
PDRM needs ‘cleansing’
Looks like it is not only the electoral system that needs a shake-up. The PDRM, too, badly requires a “cleansing”, inside out. The high-handedness of the police has to end and should the Home Ministry refute or show no interest in doing so, it would be in the best interest of the rakyat to decide the next best move.
As the situation stands, there is little hope the people can place in the Home Ministry in doing what is right. The May 9 announcement by Hishammuddin that a six-man panel headed by former Inspector-General of Police Hanif Omar will investigate allegations of police violence during the Bersih 3.0 rally is far from assuring.
To electoral reform activist Bersih, the panel is powerless and lacks regulations that will allow it to serve its purpose.
Over and above that, putting Hanif in charge has confirmed suspicions that the panel is a gimmick by the ruling Barisan Nasional government to win the people’s confidence in view of the looming 13th general electiom.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee has a very valid reason to “question” Hanif’s appointment. Hanif had previously issued statements that were biased against Bersih rally protesters.
“He has claimed that communist sympathisers who were active demonstrators in the 1970s were involved in the Bersih 3.0 assembly and utilised tactics learnt from past pro-communist demonstrations.
“He has also agreed with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s allegation that Bersih 3.0 was an attempt to topple the government.
“By so doing he has shown that he is biased and has already pre-judged the outcome of the investigation,” the steering committee had said.
Still, does the Najib-administration care? Obviously not. Having fooled the rakyat for over five decades, the BN thinks it can once again pull a fast one and appear a “hero” in the eyes of the people.
Hopefully, post-2008, the rakyat is more discerning in separating the wheat from the chaff.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.