Sometime in June this year, I met a wonderful couple in Troy, New York, who were thrilled to hear about my country, Malaysia. They had plans to visit, and were intent on coming next year.
This morning, I received a call from them. After the cursory greetings, my friend told me that Malaysia was now famous, but for all the wrong reasons. He'd seen a BBC segment on the stripping and ear-squatting incident. His subsequent response was simply this - I'm having second thoughts about visiting because I don't want to risk putting my wife through that.
I tried to allay his fears by saying that I didn't think the authorities would do that to Caucasians (which speaks a lot of the racial undertones that underpin so much that goes on in this country), but he didn't sound convinced.
Now, in explaining the incident to us Malaysians and to the world at large, we are told that the stripping of an individual, and coercing her to do ear-squats, is just "Standard Operating Procedure". Ah, well yes, that would of course allay our American friends' fears. After all, it's just our SOP.
Well, I suppose that if you could justify humiliation, degradation and systematic fueling of fear by alluding to SOPs, democracy ought to pack its bags in this country and return to whence it came.
I am horrified that the powers-that-are think that we will swallow such pathetic excuses and treat this as another "over-reaction" to something that is a "heritage" in this country.
More than that, I am absolutely appalled at the talk that action ought to be taken against MP Teresa Kok for bringing such abuse to the fore. I am a citizen of this country. I have a right to know what is being done by the police who have been tasked with protecting me. So I thank her for having the courage to highlight and expose this. Talk and words are cheap, but pictures speak a thousand words.
Wake up, Malaysia! Can't we see that this is not about "spoiling relations between Malaysia and China"? This is about the way the world views our respect for fundamental human rights and our treating as sacrosanct another fellow human being's worth. I have absolutely had it with MPs who will now jump on the bandwagon of manipulation, and accuse whom they may to gain political mileage. Take responsibility for our country's sake!
Please, for all that remains good and noble, take action against the perpetrators. Take action against those who implemented this despicable SOP. Take action to ensure that this does not recur. Take action against those who have given the police force a name that now stinks to high heaven as a result of the rampant abuse of police powers. But please do not begin pointing your crooked finger at the very ones who tried to right this wrong.