Public confidence in Police Plummeted in 2010

Umno and its cohorts has never had to bear up with any blinding tear gas or burning chemical-laced water from a water cannon. They were never brutalised or bludgeoned by the batons of bullies in blue, or bundled into police vehicles or beaten up in a police cell.

Martin Jalleh

Bolehland celebrates the 204th Police Day today. We thank God for each member of the PDRM for risking and putting their lives on the line every day for us and the countless unseen and untold sacrifices they have made.

We would like to believe that the country is at peace because of the police.

Sadly though a review of the performance of the police force last year (2010) indicates the failure of the government’s professed intention of improving the level of public confidence in the country’s police force.

In a four-part series. the reader will be able to see how in 2010, the police 

a) aggressively and indiscriminately denied certain citizens the constitutional right to the freedom of speech and assembly

b) abused and used arbitrarily the wide powers of arrest and detention 

c) acted with impunity and complete disregard for constitutional and judicial safeguards.

d) arrogantly showed their contempt for the rights of the people that resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality, torture, prolonged detention, shooting, custodial violence and death.

Part I: Police Preferred to Play Politics

In March 2010, then then IGP Musa Hassan’s insisted that “the police did not take into account the political leanings of anyone, including politicians, when conducting their investigation…”

Musa was only fooling himself. There were ample examples in 2010 of the police being blatantly and brazenly biased towards the powers that be. This can be especially seen in the double standards it displayed.

Umno and its cohorts has never had to bear up with any blinding tear gas or burning chemical-laced water from a water cannon. They were never brutalised or bludgeoned by the batons of bullies in blue, or bundled into police vehicles or beaten up in a police cell.

In 2010, the police appeared to believe in and guarded Umno’s constitutional right to the freedom of speech and assembly. They were guaranteed convenient and comfortable passage to and from the place they held their demonstrations. No action was taken even though it was later confirmed it was an “illegal gathering”.

Such was the case when in February about 300 Umno Youth, Perkasa and MIC Youth members besieged the Australian High Commission to protest against the 50 Australian Members of Parliament who had called for the sodomy charges against Anwar Ibrahim to be dropped.

In the same month, police gave their blessings to some 1,000 members of Perkasa and Selangor Umno to march from the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz mosque to the Selangor State Secretariat Building to protest the state government’s handling of the quit rent issue involving Yayasan Basmi Kemiskinan.

In sharp contrast, police subjected the Opposition to “petty prosecutions”. They made it their job to deny, disturb, disrupt and derail events organized by the Opposition, civil groups (like Hindraf) or concerned citizens.

In March they disrupted Pakatan Rakyat gatherings in Kepong and Kelab Sultan Sulaiman field, held to celebrate the second anniversary of its 8 March success. In July, they “ambushed” a dinner-talk in Rengit, Johor. Such senseless police aggression was also seen in Changkat Lada, Perak and many other places throughout 2010.

In March, acting on police reports made by the police themselves, the police interrogated Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim over “sensitive issues” which he had supposedly raised during his ceremahs in Penang. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and about 15 other elected representatives were also questioned.

“I think this is too much…We strongly resent and protest this continued intimidation by the police force… the police are out to prevent us from carrying out our duties. They should focus on problems of security and criminals and not be subservient to Umno leaders,” Anwar lambasted the police.

On 1 August 30 people were arrested in Petaling Jaya for attending an anti-ISA candlelight vigil to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ISA. On that same night, police also arrested four people in another vigil held at the Speakers’ Square in Penang.

Police confirmed that they knew of the presence at the same spot of pro-ISA members believed to be Umno representatives and that they were there “to create trouble and agitate”. Yet, no one amongst that group was reprimanded or arrested.

The police also stood idly by when a group of pro-ISA protestors disrupted an Anti-ISA Forum in Penang in November. Would the police do the same if a group were to disrupt a forum organized by Umno?

The year ended with the men in blue at their biased best! On 5 Dec. riot police fired tear gas and sprayed chemical-laced water to disperse some 3,000 protesters as they attempted to march to Istana Negara to submit a memorandum urging the King to intervene in the on-going dispute between the state government and water management company Syabas. About 50 protesters were also arrested.

Of course, the police did not mind the 300 or so protestors of the Anti-Penyelewengan Selangor (Gaps) or anti-Selangor government movement gathered at Stadium Merdeka. They sent a delegation to the palace by car and submitted the memorandum on the water issue to a palace representative.

From the examples given above and still more, the Police failed to “act fairly, independently and professionally” in 2010. They remained for yet another year – the Police Farce!