Amid the uproar over the strip-and-squat incident at the police station, one thing has become abundantly clear. There appears to be a great deal of confusion within the government, with officials issuing contradictory (and sometimes illogical) statements.
While the prime minister and deputy prime minister said that this is not the accepted practice, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police has stated that this is "routine". How can something be both "routine" and "unacceptable" at the same time? Why should the prime minister and the deputy prime minister be surprised at what is, according to the police, "routine"? Can we assume that they are completely unaware that the police have been subjecting women to this kind of treatment all this while?
Again, if the procedure is "routine", why should the home affairs minister make a trip to China to apologise? What is he going to say? That this will most certainly happen again since this is routine. Or is he going to say that Chinese women are not only the ones that are being targeted and that everyone irrespective of race, nationality or religion are made to undergo the same humiliating process with democratic impartiality?
At the same time, while the prime minister has ordered that an independent body be set up to investigate this incident, Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar has gone on record saying that the police action was quote "by the book" unquote. And yet, according to the International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz, "We don't mistreat people and the government does not condone any procedure or conduct outside standard procedures."
Not standard procedure? Excuse me, but "by the book" sounds like pretty standard procedure to me. She went on to say: "We will tell the whole world that this is not our way". But how can this be "not our way" if it is "routine" (according to the deputy IGP) and "by the book" (according to the deputy internal security minister)? Meanwhile, one can only conclude that whatever we are showing to the whole world, one thing is clear - the official government line is very unclear.
You can say what you like about Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our former prime minister, but this sort of confusion would have never be allowed to play itself out under his watch. Neither the deputy IGP nor the deputy internal security minister would not have the audacity to contradict him in public.
How I wish our present prime minister is not such a nice guy. Sometimes, to run a country, you need to kick posteriors. And if Mahathir were to be in charge, he would definitely have kicked some posteriors by now.