A PICTURE paints a thousand words, but how can one paint an accurate picture of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM)? After all, none other than Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan has been a regular headline grabber over the past year.
When he came into power in 2004, then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saw to the setting up of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.
In May 2005, the commission came up with 125 recommendations to improve PDRM. One of the recommendations was for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be set up.
Fast forward exactly one year later. With the IPCMC still unimplemented, PDRM in its internal bulletin Berita Bukit Aman alleged that the IPCMC was “unconstitutional, prejudicial to national security and public order, [could] cause a state of anarchy and [undermine] the ruling coalition’s power.” Its views were echoed by de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in Parliament on 30 June 2009.
Things have pretty much gone downhill if police actions are any indicator. In the run-up to the March 2008 general election, PDRM gained notoriety for clamping down on all manner of peaceful public assemblies — whether on electoral reforms, the plight of Indian Malaysians, or for human rights in general.
And since the March 2008 elections, PDRM started to appear even more in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. A brief chronology is in order:
13 Nov 2008: The IGP warns non-Muslims to stop challenging the National Fatwa Council’s ruling that tomboyism was haram. He says the police “will take stern action as it involves national security.”
16 Dec 2008: Thirty people are arrested in the “Cycling for Change” campaign, organised by the Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit). Among others, the campaign called for a minimum wage act to be introduced, and for the Internal Security Act (ISA) to be abolished.
20 Jan 2009: A Kugan, 22, who was arrested on 15 Jan 2009 on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars, dies in police custody. An initial autopsy report states that the death was due to fluid accumulation in the lungs. Three days later, Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail classifies Kugan’s death in police custody as murder. A second autopsy finds that Kugan was beaten to death.
28 Feb 2009: Police use water cannons to disperse a crowd of about 300 people who had gathered to lodge a mass report against the alleged mistreatment of former ISA detainee P Uthayakumar.
7 Mar 2009: Riot police fire teargas at hundreds of people who try to march towards Istana Negara, protesting the policy of using English to teach Science and Mathematics.
11 Mar 2009: The government tables the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Bill that promises a beefed-up body to probe complaints against enforcement agencies, including the police. This is despite criticisms that the EAIC will have no teeth, and more calls for the IPCMC Bill to be tabled instead.
5 May 2009: Political scientist Wong Chin Huat is arrested for sedition for writing several articles, including on the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign. Wong’s arrest is the first of what amounts to a crackdown on more than 100 activists, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders and lawyers in less than 72 hours, including those gathered in front of the Perak state assembly on 7 May.
27 May 2009: Deputy IGP Tan Sri Ismail Omar says the ISA is still relevant to curb threats to the country’s security and economy but is not meant to oppress anyone.
15 June 2009: A suspected thief is found dead in a lock-up in Damansara police station after a guard noticed the 53-year-old man lying flat beside the toilet.
21 June 2009: Police withdraw a permit for a dinner-cum-ceramah by the DAP in Klang at the very last minute. On the same day, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein says he will revisit the 125 recommendations made by the royal commission in 2005, hinting that this is because the recommendations have not been implemented properly. Two days later, Hishammuddin backtracks, and says that instead of revisiting the 125 recommendations, the ministry will instead think of a “new strategy” to “boost public confidence” in PDRM.
24 June 2009: Nazri says the AG’s Chambers will not take any action against the perpetrators of A Kugan’s death before 21 Aug 2009. On the same day, police in Selangor deny the DAP a permit, yet again, to hold a dinner gathering with speeches at Taman Sri Sungai Pelek Community Hall on 25 June.
What? Nothing about snatch thieves, rapists, wife-beaters and actual, real-life criminals? But there it is — the headlines speak for themselves. It does seem, though, that reducing all of this to Six Words on the police is not going to be easy.
Well, “Nut” is not The Nut Graph‘s middle name for nothing — we believe it can be done. Paint your picture of the Royal Malaysia Police in only six words. Here are some of The Nut Graph‘s humble attempts:
Moto polis: “Tegas, Adil, dan Berhemah.”
Childhood ambition. Then I grew up.
Pay them higher salaries, less corruption?
Police need diversity and gender training.
Children’s hero. People’s fear. Politicians’ puppet.
Double standards for powerful and powerless.
When is Musa going to resign?
Snatch thieves rule! Where’s the police?
We need a new police force.
Reform, reform, reform, reform, reform, reform.
Arrest candlelight vigilers. Water cannon dinners.
Beat them to death in detention.
Would you trust a police officer?
Police behave like raja di Malaysia.
Placing Our Lives In Corrupt Enforcers.
Uniforms do not equate absolute authority.
Focus on vehicular congestion, not human.
May the force be with you.
Easier to arrest than reform democracy.
Arrest now, ask questions later. Understand?
1Malaysia, many laws, no IPCMC, 1PDRM.
Who needs a military coup anyway?
Aktivis lebih bahaya daripada perogol bersiri!
I see dead people … in detention.
Desperate politicians call for desperate enforcement.
BN’s biggest public relations disaster yet.
The good ones need positive support.
“Maaf encik. Can buy you tea?”
The Nut Graph loves cute uniforms.
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway‘s genius, the Six Words On… section challenges readers to give us their comments about a current issue, contemporary personality or significant event in just six words. The idea is to get readers engaged in an issue that The Nut Graph identifies, while having fun and being creatively disciplined.