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Just as what Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang fears, the Malaysian police has deliberately gone on the wrong track to cover up its shameful Abu Ghraib scandal.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, who nowadays seems to be the man speaking for the police, said whoever took the naked women ear squat video clip -whether a police person or a civilian would be charged under the Penal Code.

Is his aim to punish the breaker of the police 'omerta' code rather than the abuser of a naked woman, forced into humiliating postures in a police cell. On the surface of it, Musa's action seems to be what the Chinese would term as 'killing a chicken to frighten the monkey'? Or could there be another more sinister reason?

The police deputy chief started off by shocking us with the pre-investigation exoneration of Malaysia's own 'Lynndie England' by stating: "It is the perpetrator behind the video clip whom we are after and and not the policewoman, who was carrying out a routine check."

Routine check? What routine check requires a naked woman to perform ear squats? The deputy IGP hasn't even explained why the Chinese woman was made to strip naked, and perform what universally is known to be a humiliating exercise. In fact, the police investigation has hardly started, and already he has decided the policewoman was not abusive.

Mind you, this pre-emptive exoneration is right in the midst of another so-called police investigation, relating to the sexual humiliation and extortion of other Chinese women, wives of Malaysian citizens, and also in the same den of iniquity.

The deputy prime minister had already stated that there is no such police procedure as ear squats, but seemingly has now been overruled by a mere deputy police chief. Then there is Home Minister Azmi Khalid, who has urged the woman in a controversial video clip to step forward to assist police investigations.

All these ministerial pronouncements indicate the minsters have accepted that the ear squatting in the nude has been the abusive issue. Their sentiments have also been echoed by other ministers including the prime minister himself.

So why has the deputy IGP, a mere public servant, uttered words to suggest he has fired a defiant shot, right across the cabinet's bow? Why is he battening down the police hatches. Indeed why?

At the same time as Musa exonerated the policewoman seen in the video clip, another police head, North Seberang Perai OCPD Asst Comm Mazlan Lazim, has come out to acknowledge that ear squatting in the nude is practised by police and must be allowed to continue.

These defiant recalcitrance, whether coordinated or otherwise, can only mean one thing - Malaysia's police Abu Ghraib-like abuses are more widespread than has been thought earlier. The police brass are now worried that punishment of the policewoman may reveal more stinking dirt, so the next best mitigating move seems to be to make that universally-recognised abusive action an approved police procedure.

The prime minister's mistake was to have the police investigate itself, because contrary to what he wants, there will be more cover-up rather than genuine unearthing of the scope and depth of police abuses