Stop harassing peaceful citizens: Go after the criminals

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Aliran is appalled at the determined effort of the police to stop a peaceful campaign mounted by Jerit to raise awareness of issues such as food shortages, environmental problems, draconian laws and the financial crisis. In a unique way, Jerit is highlighting these very important issues affecting the great majority of our citizens by getting two teams of cyclists to “Ride for Change”.

 

Both these teams took off simultaneously – one from Johor Bahru and the other from Alor Setar on 3 December 2008. It would have taken them 16 days to reach Kuala Lumpur on 18 December 2008 where both the teams would converge and proceed to Parliament House to deliver a six-point memorandum to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Why are the police in a frenzy to frustrate this attempt in such a serious manner? Why is this endeavour by peaceful means viewed as if it posed a threat to the peace of the nation? Why are so many police personnel and vehicles used when crime is so rampant and needs urgent attention all over the country?

What is bewildering is the fact that in spite of having informed the Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan of this “Ride for Change” programme, these harassments, intimidations and arrests have taken place on a daily basis in a routine manner. There has also been an allegation of sexual assault which allegedly resulted in the breasts of a participant being groped. The police as an institution have not lived up to the expectations of the public as a moral guardian looking after our safety and well-being.

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People are wondering why can’t the police put in as much enthusiasm and determination in going after the criminals who have become the bane of society with crimes escalating to worrying levels. Snatch thefts, murders, house-breaking, robberies, kidnappings, and rapes have become daily occurrences in our country simply because the police are no longer perceived as being effective in combating crime.

Why are the police hell-bent in wanting to stop this peaceful campaign which is undertaken on behalf of the people and for the good of the people? Where is the threat and who is being threatened by this endeavour that is aimed at compelling the Barisan Government to focus on the real issues affecting the rakyat instead of indulging in politics to perpetuate their power. So many police reports have been lodged with regard to corruption, abuse of power, violations of human rights, and disregard for rule of law, but why have the police not displayed as much enthusiasm in trying to solve all these grievances?

So far 23 arrests have taken place involving the team from the South and 53 arrests involving the team from the North. On each occasion those arrested were taken to police stations for statements to be recorded and particulars to be checked before being released. This has resulted in a lot of time being wasted – time which could have been devoted to fighting real criminals and curbing crime.

It is very unfortunate that the police are being perceived as the tool of the ruling party in the way they conduct themselves. They seem more intent in going after dissidents and social activists to ensure the power of the BN rather than tackling crime and criminals to make the country safe for the ordinary citizens.. This police conduct is definitely not acceptable to the people in a democracy.

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We are going through, in the words of the Greek poet, Aeschylus, “one of the periods of hope and endeavour which now and again light up the dark pages of history”. Clearly there are Malaysians who will not be brow-beaten to submission but will on the other hand stand up for justice and what is right. These brave cyclists will complete their journey on behalf of the people and the memorandum will surely be delivered to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on 18 December 2008.

If the police resort to brutal means to stop this endeavour. which provides hope for change, then we will have to ensure that there is a change in the government in the next general election to put a stop to this unhealthy behaviour of the police and teach the BN a lesson that there is a limit to their undemocratic rule. The dark pages of history will not dominate our lives forever.

 

P Ramakrishnan

President

11 December 2008.

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