The day will come when we’re all ‘Kelings’

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“I did not tell you it would be okay because I never believed it would be okay.”

- Ta-Nehisi Coates

COMMENT | Before I begin, does anybody question why Watsons would think that such a video advertisement would be acceptable to Malaysians? It is a good strategy to claim that the ad was based on folklore - the myth itself is somewhat racist if you think about it - but really, the ad is merely a reflection of the consumer base.

When PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang says, "Report and leave the problems to the authorities,” does he mean the very same authorities that behave in a manner which defines the “samseng” culture which he decries? Does he mean the authorities that have a problem carrying out their duties when it comes to choosing between “secular” laws - which they are obligated to follow - and edicts coming from the syariah courts?

Nathaniel Tan’s piece on the ongoing Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) hearing into the death in custody of S Balamurugan is riveting, not only because it is lucidly written but also because it clearly articulates the silence of police officers who choose to do nothing where their actions would vindicate those of us who have said that the state security apparatus is not only staffed by violent thugs but also honourable men and women who would do the right thing.

The Balamurugan case is also evidence that some security personnel do not protect their sources. If a police officer does not protect his or her source from other police personnel, how then do they protect their sources from other criminal elements?

When inspector Mohd Noor Husri Johari says, “If I bring him to the hospital and he escapes or dies while en route, I would be held responsible," does this mean that he is not responsible for the death of Balamurugan when he eventually brought the prisoner to the destination he was ordered to?

If the police released the prisoner as was ordered instead of “rearrested”, then all this may have been avoided. As it is, there was a conspiracy to detain the deceased on “different” charges, police personnel who are ignorant of SOP (standard operating procedure), unquestioning in their obedience to superior officers, racist and only interested in safeguarding their positions even when the life of a prisoner is at stake. Only in Malaysia would an Islamic politician tell us to put our faith in people like these.

This is not an aberration in which the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) normally operates. I would argue that this is common practice in the manner in which the PDRM operates, and what is most damaging is that there has never been an outcry from the general public as there has been with corruption cases. There are, of course, many reasons for this.

The most important one is that marginalised communities face the brunt of police brutality and while there have been lawyers, activists and politicians who have been doing the hard work of representing these marginalised folks, there apparently is no room in urban middle politics for this kind of issue...

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