by Hafidz Baharom
There is a need for us to reflect on just how much protection we want to grant to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) today.
While those of us from Shah Alam were shocked by how a 14-year-old on a joyride ended up being shot up by the police armed with a machine-gun on 26 April, 2010, and then the attempted cover up with a machete in the boot of the car, many Malaysians including us have nothing but respect for the entirety of the police force as a whole.
However, there will always be bad apples in any force so large, even if it is with the best intentions at heart. But we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Enter the news today; the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) has announced that a person who died in police captivity was in fact killed.
As mentioned in The Malay Mail Online, EAIC chairman Datuk Yaacob Md Sam announced in Putrajaya:
“A total of 52 bruises on the deceased caused by a blunt force object (blunt force trauma) causing acute massive loss of blood into the tissues causing hypovolemic shock,”
On top of this, the ears of the victims, N Dharmendran, 31, was found stapled.
While Dharmendran was detained for being accused of attempted murder, we must ask ourselves this; do we believe criminals to no longer be human?
Because if we do, then we would have a lot to expect from those who are currently refusing to return to Malaysia after embezzling billions from our country.
That being said, Dharmendran did not deserve to die in the lockup.
On top of this, there was news last week of how two police officers are being charged for letting go a caught paedophile.
There have been an increasing number of cases of police officers acting out of hand, and this is tarnishing the entire image of the force.
And while I am personally thankful that the PDRM and our Fire Department did a wonderful job during the recent bomb scare here in Damansara Perdana, it needs to be said that there is a need for police officers to police their own.
Quite frankly, dismissals work better than transfers. Also frankly speaking, there is of course mounting pressure now for the passage of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
This was in fact suggested in fact by the findings of a Royal Commission of Inquiry as a way to hold the police accountable for cases of death in detention.
You can trace this back to the death of A Kugan – accused of being involved in a luxury car theft – in the USJ Taipan police station on January 20, 2009.
The courts are quickly playing catch up in holding police officers accountable for these misdeeds and crimes, but the truth is the police itself needs to look into what is being done by their own comrades.
If there is actually an internal affairs division in the police force here in Malaysia, then I do expect them to study accusations of mistreatment and even deciding to let go of criminals seriously.
Because if not, then the general public will continue to lose faith in the police force and while it may look good from a statistical standpoint that “crime rates drop” because no reports are being filed, it is another thing altogether when the citizenry decides to go for the route of vigilantism.
In fact, we have just seen this in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, where a person accused of theft was involved in an accident and beaten up by a mob.
These incidents will continue, and while the police might view this as justice, it would also mean that the people no longer believe in the rule of law. And when the system of law collapses, do you honestly believe there will be anything stopping a mob from marching against a police station by themselves?
Or even tearing down Putrajaya?
Laws are in place to maintain order, and the police and the AGC are tasked to ensure the law works for the safety and security general public, not one man, not who pays more, not who holds more power, not your friends and family members.
That is the meaning of impartiality. And if the police force and the AGC has a problem with that, then they should reflect on their posts and leave.
Otherwise, we will continue to see a deregulation of established laws, to the law of mob rule and vigilantism. And if or when this happens, then nobody will be safe from violence simply based on our basic differences.
We see it happen in India, Bangladesh and even Pakistan. In the Philippines even those running for elections and hanging out taking a photo of their families can end up finding their own murderers.
If the Royal Malaysian Police is not careful, this is the future fate of Malaysia itself. Let us hope we don’t devolve that far down before some form of intervention.