Death threats, Red Shirts and the police


By Tan Jin Huat

Reading the news with each passing day, I feel a sense of outrage at the growing violence perpetrated by a very small minority of our population. This is not the kind of society we should move towards. We want a society where people conduct themselves with civility and respectability. The breaking point for me was the death threat to the Bersih 2.0 committee members, in particular Maria Chin Abdullah and her three children, including the threat to behead her sons if the Bersih 5 demonstrations were to continue.

Today I read in the news that the car of one of her son’s, was splashed with red paint. This is certainly a barbaric and cowardly act calculated to intimidate and demoralise. I call this cowardly because these people will hide to do their acts of darkness.

Certainly those who are behind these threats and acts are a menace to civil society. They need to be stopped and dealt with accordingly. The police must act quickly and impartially.

I am however heartened to read today the call to stand up and protest against such acts in an article by Azrul Mohd Katib titled “We must condemn and denounce the threat of terror”. His call to the police (PDRM) to investigate and act swiftly against the threats especially when it seems “to come wrapped in IS imagery” is certainly welcomed by all level-headed Malaysians.

All Malaysians should support the police in their investigations into such matters. However over the years, my confidence in the police when it comes to “politically motivated” violence has sunk to its lowest level. This is not to say that the police are inefficient. I have always believed that our police are, in fact, very efficient when it wants to do its duty. And I want to believe in our police that it will act promptly and fairly towards everyone.

However this is not what I have seen. In the past, there has been so many cases where the police have not acted impartially but acted selectively. The police are there to not only serve the government of the day but also to serve and protect all people.

Yes, the leader of the Red Shirts has been detained for a few days for threatening a repeat of May 13, but my cynical self tells me that he will go free without much consequence for his actions. I may be wrong, but let us wait and see what happens.

The current issue started and has now snowballed because of the proposed Bersih 5 demonstrations in November. What the Bersih 2.0 leaders propose to do, the Red Shirts seem intent on blocking, using schoolboy bullying tactics. It is now obvious that the leader of the Red Shirts has taken a confrontational stand in trying to stop Bersih 2.0 from going ahead with the proposed demonstration. Of course, as expected, some violence did break out recently as reported in the news and obviously, instigated by the Red Shirts.

Why should the Red Shirts confront the people from Bersih 2.0 as they go about what they are doing? Can the Red Shirts not hold its own demonstration at a separate place? Of course, they should and the police should see to that. In this way, any confrontation can be averted. The Red Shirts can refute anything that Bersih 2.0 has to say, calmly and rationally without any “delayed adolescent” tantrum.

The Bersih 4 demonstration was a very peaceful and even joyful occasion without much incident except for a couple of immature young people stepping on a photo. The rise in violence only took place with the bullying tactics of the Red Shirts.

But why are the police not doing anything about this? Their action is too little and too late in this situation.

Why has the Prime Minster not even said a word on this issue? His silence is deafening.

Who is perceived to have the most to lose as a result of the Bersih 5 demonstration?

Actually, I do not see any real good reason why the Red Shirts should have an axe to grind with Bersih 2.0. The electoral watchdog is not directly targeting the leader of the Red Shirts or any of its supporters in any way. Bersih 2.0’s cause is something that most Malaysians welcome. Bersih 2.0’s stand has been that of (1) holding free and fair elections; (2) having a transparent government; (3) strengthening the system of parliamentary democracy and (4) saving the national economy. In fact, the Red Shirts should welcome such a move towards a more progressive civil society.

Of course, by his own admission, the leader of the Red Shirts has said (and which made controversial news) that he has received donations from his friends. Is he doing all this because of the donations from his friends?

I call on the IGP to take decisive action to prevent our society from going toward a downward spiral into more violence. I call upon the PM to publicly order the leader of the Red Shirts, an Umno division leader, to stop all the bullying and threats. If he did so, I believe all the threats and bullying, currently taking place, will die down immediately.

As a God-fearing person, I believe that we will all have to answer to Almighty God one day. I appeal to you, who have been entrusted with the power to govern and maintain order, to do what is good and righteous, so as not to bear the eternal punishment that God has for the wicked. I pray that you will do the right and good thing for the welfare of all Malaysians.

Tan Jin Huat is an FMT reader.

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