Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Polis Diraja Malaysia: A Royal Disgrace

Take note that this is not an attack on the Malaysian police as a whole, but I can safely say that with how most of the force are behaving, it is starting to make their conduct questionable. This morning while once again braving the daily morning traffic horror at the LDP Sunway toll, what appeared to be a cop on a motorcycle stopped at the side of my car about 10 meters away from the toll when it was about to be my turn. Without saying anything, he made gestures to what seem like to me that I should follow my queue (which I was), then he proceeded to the same to the other line at the adjacent toll. Just as I was about to enter, he again pulled up at my side. This time I lowered my window to see what was the matter. In a rude tone he said:

"Pergilah tepi! You tak faham kah?" (Move to the side! You don't understand?")

It was then I realised that he was an outrider escorting some VIP. First of all, let me state that I believe that nobody, no matter how important they are, except ambulances or emergencies, should be given way on the road. By the look of how comfy this group of VIPs were in their car, they don't seem to be in any kind of emergency. Like everyone they should suffer like the rest of us stuck in the jam every morning. I mean we pay our taxes as well don't we? And if the VIP is a politician, all the more he/she should feel what the rest of us are feeling. After all, it's their fault for not managing the traffic system well. Take a look at the late Ghafar Baba who always insisted that he should not be escorted by outriders because he doesn't want to inconvenience other people. God rest his soul.

But I digress, I was much taken aback by the rudeness of this cop that I actually yelled back at him, "Belakang pun sudah block! Kalau boleh jalan, jalan sajalah!" (The back is already blocked! If they can move then move!")

Still, I was forced to give way, to not one VIP car, but several others as well in the entourage, further aggravating the jam which already had tempers flaring all around. This won't be the first time I had bad blood with the Malaysian police. Years back when I was still in high school, I had the very unfortunate experience of witnessing police brutality after being forced to participate in a police line-up. Not that I was the victim of their oppression of course. Me and several group of people had their identification cards illegally detained (I didn't know it was illegal then) by the police after what seem like a routine check at an arcade centre. We were told to go to the police station to collect them. We were made to wait in a small room and not told why we there. There was an open door connected to the next room where I could see a disheveled man in handcuffs being harassed by several plainclothes policemen. To my shock, they started assaulting him and told him to squat underneath a desk while one of them rested his foot on him like a footrest!

Never in my life have I ever witnessed with my own eyes a man being treated this way. It was almost as if he was worse than an animal. When the guy who was using him as a footrest saw me looking, he immediately went to close the door, as if he knew what he was doing was not meant to be witnessed by the public. I don't know what crime he has committed then but later did I find out he was a snatch thief after he was "herded" among us in a line-up while two women were brought in to identify him. It was after that incident that I lost my respect for the Malaysian police force in general.

Years later I had the "privilege" to experience police corruption at work after I was stopped for using the handphone whilst driving. My fault of course, and out of fear, I accepted the offer to bribe after he falsely threatened me that my driving license would be revoked on the spot and my driving privileges will be suspended for months pending hearing in court when in truth I would just be issued a summon. I lost RM100 in the process and feeling dirty having participated in the illegal transaction. Last year in May I was also summoned without notice after I was given warning that I cannot drive in a taxi/bus lane near KLCC. I only found out I had a summon after a colleague checked my record online, much to my disgust.

And who doesn't know that our police is already well known for inefficiency? I am sure anybody who had the unfortunate need to report a crime or IC loss will know. My ex had his house broken into once, and all they did was come around few hours later, look around half-heartedly and take a few statements. All that CSI thing you see on TV? I am beginning to wonder if it really does exist. If you are one of the common folk like me, don't expect to ever recover your stolen property, not unless you're a Datuk or Tan Sri, of which a suspect (or scapegoat) will definitely be in hand within the next 48 hours.

Having said that, I am sure they are a few dedicated men of law out there, just that the bad probably outweighs the good. If they are unhappy being underpaid then by all means go do something else. The rest of us have to deal with being unhappy with our jobs, I don't see why we have to deal with their disgruntled manners as well.

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