Celebrating Police Day! (3)
By Martin Jalleh
There was deep concern and consternation throughout 2010 over what the public viewed as the growing “shoot-to-kill” culture by the police force or what R. Sivarasa, the MP for Subang, called “a culture of impunity”.
“It means that they feel that they can do as they wish and they won’t be held accountable… they can shoot, kill, and there won’t be any questions asked (or)… any investigations and that they can continue doing so,” he said.
The nationwide concern over the trigger-happy cops of PDRM culminated into public outraged in April with the police “killing” of 14-year old Form III student Aminulrasyid Hamzah about 100 metres from his Shah Alam house.
The callous responses and cavalier attitude of the IGP, Home Minister and the police as they tried to contain the public firestorm caused the public to lose confidence in them and repeatedly call for the IGP to resign.
Respected lawyer Art Harun captured the sentiments of the people so clearly: “Right-minded people of Malaysia regard the killing of Aminulrasyid as symptomatic of lawless totalitarianism.”
“But that which makes this case all the more nauseating is not so much that this totally unnecessary killing of a 14-year-old boy had happened, but rather the responses by various parties — those people upon whom our security is entrusted — during the aftermath.
“The responses have been anything but humane, sensitive or even caring. They are arrogant, defensive and downright rude. Where is the love? Where is the humility? Doesn’t it occur to these people that they occupy seats of trust?”
Further, the police have become very predictable with their pat responses: “The dead were criminals. They behaved in a suspicious manner. They tried to evade/resist arrest. They drove away dangerously. Weapons were later found. Police acted by the rules. The law allows them to defend themselves” (Free Malaysia Today)
Seven months after Aminulrasyid was gunned down, three youths between the ages of 15 and 22 were shot dead after a reported high-speed car chase in Shah Alam. They were suspected of robbing a petrol station. Two of the families of the trio claimed that they were killed by the police in cold blood.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide demanded that newly-installed IGP Ismail Omar end the indiscriminate fatal police shootings. DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang declared: “It would appear that with the change of IGP, there is no change in the police culture as such.”
Before the year ended, human rights and legal reform advocates “Lawyers for Liberty” highlighted the seriousness of the situation. The number of fatal shootings by the police rose 17-fold since 2001 – from five in 2001 to a shocking total of 82 in 2008 and 88 in 2009.
Judging from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s curt, cold and caustic response, it is very clear that such “extrajudicial killings” will continue on in Bolehland! He said there was no surge in the number of fatal shootings. The matter was just being “sensationalized” in parliament. There could be a “slight increase” after all.
Hishammuddin’s continued his hogwash: “Let the police respond on the data …If not, I would be asked this question every day when there are other serious matters to respond to”. The data provided was from the police themselves! And what is more “serious” than the safety and security of innocent lives of Malaysians?
There were also those who were shot by the police but who managed to survive, the latest being Ho Chei Hang who was shot four times by plainclothes police officers in Kepong in November. The story of Norizan Salleh who was mistakenly shot five times by police officers last year continued to receive public attention in 2010.
It is evident that the only effective way to keep the police in check and the only convincing government action is the formation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Sadly, the federal government has proven to be a big hindrance to such a necessary move, and for obvious reasons.