Edict agrees with police chief – but with a major caveat

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Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (Edict), an organisation concerned with upholding the honour of the police, resonates with much of what Inspector General of Police Hamid Bador is reported to have said recently.

In a report carried by Bernama, Hamid echoed some of what Edict said in a statement on 18 March titled “We must also honour policemen and women during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

As we pointed out then and have continued to point out since, the police are at the frontlines of implementing an order which creates hardship for many people, who therefore resist.

The police must handle the resistance sensitively. And they must do so while serving for long hours, for weeks, perhaps months, and put themselves in harm’s way so that we can be safe.

It is right and proper that their leader, the inspector general, reminds the public of the sacrifices policemen and women are making. We are glad he has conducted checks to ensure that they are using all available means of protection against the coronavirus.

We applaud him for doing so and for speaking inspiring words such as these: “The police are carrying out a noble mission with the objective of breaking the Covid-19 infection chain to save the people.” We couldn’t agree more.

We are however concerned about these other words, which the report also attributes to him: “Individuals who … record and take photographs with the intention of casting a bad image on the police … are strongly reminded that there are many parties who are keeping their eye on you and waiting to arrest you.”

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We fear that those words will override everything the inspector general has said in the past about the need to reform the police. In his famous open letter about the kleptocrat government, he even said he would like to become head of the integrity department (JIPS) so that he could help clean up the force.

Malaysians are painfully aware of the covered-up, tolerated, repeated abuse of powers by members of the police force resulting in many deaths in custody.

Malaysians are similarly aware that after a painstaking inquiry, Suhakam concluded one year ago that the police are responsible for the enforced disappearance of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh – but the police appear to have held no one accountable.

Malaysians are also aware that due to police resistance the independent police complaints and misconduct commission (IPCMC), which was supposed to be a tiger, has been turned into a pussy cat. In the present political climate, the IPCMC may be just a pipe dream.

Distrust of the police is immensely high. The public has concluded that since neither senior police officers nor the government wish to implement reform, they need to watch the police.

It is for that reason that the public try to record every encounter they have with the police, and some set themselves up as citizen reporters – because the media cannot be everywhere.

We note also that the need for monitoring the police is already very well established in Malaysia. Lock-ups and interrogation rooms are equipped with video cameras. Police are trialling body cameras.

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We are therefore shocked that the inspe ctor generalis reported to have said “many parties who are keeping their eye on you [individuals who do the recording] and waiting to arrest you”. Who are these “many parties?”

If not for the recordings made and circulated by these individuals – and even confirmed by the police – neither the police nor the government and the public would be aware of what is actually happening during the movement control order.

Edict calls upon the public not to be cowed by the inspector general’s words. Keep honouring the good work done by the bulk of the police.

Serving in the police force is no small thing. Policemen and women make a big sacrifice and are bound to a code: The Police Act, 1967.

Members of the police force maintain law and order, preserve the peace and security of our nation, prevent and detect crime. They are always on duty. They give all manner of assistance. They escort and guard prisoners. They do so much more. They are worthy of honour.

Policing is an honourable profession. So long as policemen and women uphold the law, they must and will be honoured. Those who work in difficult circumstances will make mistakes. No one is perfect. But deliberate, unadmitted, repetitive wrongdoing is not acceptable.

Keep respecting the police. Keep standing up for them as they slog for our sakes. Also keep recording and sharing wrongdoings done by a few bad cops, even at roadblocks. Those who do right need fear nothing.

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