Good cop, bad cop

By June Rubis
July 17, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JULY 17 — A few days ago, I had a conversation with a taxi driver who was excited about July 9th. While he had supported the rally, and could list out the points for free and fair elections, he was too scared to attend because of the heavy police presence.

He told me of a Vietnamese passenger he had that day, who was curious about the many roadblocks around the city.

“I explained to him about the rally, and how the police were there to stop the people from entering the city.”

The Vietnamese was so surprised at his explanation, he told me.

“He said that it should be the other way around. That the police should be impartial, be there to protect the people, and let them rally for a few hours. He told me Malaysia is not a democracy. It’s true, isn’t it? Malaysia isn’t a democracy?”

I have but mixed feelings about the police and FRU behaviour on that day myself.

In my opinion, the tear gas attack in the KL Sentral tunnel was heavy-handed and extremely dangerous. [See my first-hand account of what happened in the tunnel on LoyarBurok: While there were some injuries (Anwar Ibrahim was among those who was hurt when shot at with a tear gas canister), there were thankfully no other casualties in the tunnel that day.

However, it could have been a different story. We cannot forget how Baharuddin Ahmad had paid for his rally participation with his life. Currently there are accusations that the police had withheld immediate treatment for Baharuddin.

I ask this: is tear gas or chemical water the wisest way to disperse groups of peaceful, and unarmed rally participants? Especially when they have nowhere else to run but into a confined space?

It was cruel and unnecessary, especially since the FRU were apparently ordered to fire tear gas canisters directly towards the people. What I saw that day, seems to confirm this accusation.

Then there are accusations of police brutality towards men who were suffering from the effects of tear gas. Don’t just take my word for it, take a look at the many videos documenting such attacks. In my opinion, it is not very brave to tackle people who are already partly incapacitated.

And yet, when the dust was settled, and the police had captured the people that they wanted to capture, we were treated with kindness and decency.

The police kept offering us water, and food. All acts of intimidation were dropped — and why not? We were already caught like lambs to the slaughter.

One officer told me, “Saya hanya ikut arahan.”

“Ya, saya faham tapi polis juga harus adil dan tidak ikut arahan membuta-tuli.”

I wanted to explain more but felt tired and confused.

While I have some sympathy for the police who felt that they were just doing their jobs, I feel that they, and the rest of us, have to take personal responsibility for their own actions.

We do have a choice to take the extra step, whether to withhold treatment for a dying man, or to punch someone who is already gasping for air and on the ground.

We have a choice to be humane, and yet still do our job.

I hope for the day where the rakyat can fully trust the Malaysian police in being treated with fairness and decency. I hope for the day that when I, along with thousands of fellow countrymen, who decide once again to assemble peacefully as per our Constitutional right, will be protected by the police, instead of being harassed, shot at with tear gas, and chased down. I hope for the day where I see the Malaysian police as my protector, instead of my oppressor.

In the meantime, I will wear yellow every Saturday, in support for the on-going call for electoral reforms in my country.

  1. #1 by raven77 on Sunday, 17 July 2011 - 11:57 am

    Baharuddin Ahmad died needlessly….the police coudnt cut the PVC handcuffs…and all he needed was simple CPR…..he probably had a reaction to the tear gas and the police let him choke to death…..

    Shoudnt the police be charged for manslaughter…the evidence is so clear….

    Are the police, like Najib , Rosmah and Baginda above the law?

  2. #2 by monsterball on Sunday, 17 July 2011 - 12:19 pm

    The police need to do their jobs with no choice.
    Not all policemen are bad.
    They need to follow orders from the top.
    But from the bottom..there are quite a large number of unqualified police officers.
    You can say…under Najib..gangsters are recruited too.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 17 July 2011 - 3:29 pm

    The bad cops were have a monster ball of a time that day.

  4. #4 by Tom Peters on Sunday, 17 July 2011 - 4:24 pm

    Dictatorships and Democracies are copycat constructs. S. Ambiga, Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim have counterparts in Egypt just as its previous interior minister Habib El-Adly (sentenced 5 years) finance minister Boutros Ghali (sentenced 10 years) and prime minister Ahmed Nazif (given a suspended sentence) have in Malaysia.

  5. #5 by paulkersey on Sunday, 17 July 2011 - 7:33 pm

    monsterballs, dont simply utter perasan syok sendiri stupidity comments about the low ranking police . gangsters dont have what it take to become police, u need to have discipline to undergo training to become police not only in malaysia and anywhere in the world.from the doctor’s advice if u have heart attack and u join the rally u sure ask for it.wait till next time if the army were to replace the police and if u do own a shop in KL city see how you feel.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Monday, 18 July 2011 - 1:05 am

    I will still defend the fact that there are good policemen in the force….and we are talking facts not what gangsters wish to choose.
    Clean up the country with your 13th GE vote to change the government and see the difference.

  7. #7 by Joshua on Monday, 18 July 2011 - 5:55 am

    there maybe some good cops around and largely like the action of the herd mentality..sorry to say that..

    If someone is bad… then cerita habis bah.

    I myself had experienced the ‘brutality’ of some Police Officers.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Monday, 18 July 2011 - 10:18 am

    I know many Malaysian cops are giving bad name to the Police Dept.
    But like taxi drivers…there are good ones and bad ones.
    And in human beings…you cannot lump all into one kind.
    All are born with a different personality.
    But for Police…they are trained to obey without questions.
    Since the Commander have chosen Police chiefs to dance to his tune and since we know the Commander is a liar and thief….that is why we have so many problems with the Police.
    We are after big big crooks like the Commander….but he is using the Police to protect him.
    To see the real Police Force…we must get rid of the Commander in 13th GE.

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