Cynical Displays of Police Power ahead of BERSIH2.0

June 26, 2011

Cynical Displays of Police Power ahead of BERSIH2.0

by Terence Netto@

COMMENT: The Police have now overtaken Ibrahim Ali in turning support for the BERSIH 2.0 march into a going concern among citizens.

Repressive measures they have taken in the past few days are set to make the planned march the object of national attention. That dovetails nicely with what the march’s organisers had in mind when they set out to publicise it weeks ago.

At that point, the organisers had doubts as to whether the second edition of this event, first staged in November 2007, would be the success the inaugural one resoundingly was.

Thanks to the incendiary fulminations of PERKASA’s Ibrahim Ali and the myopia of the Police, the upcoming march has had all the revving-up its organisers could have wished for to make it supersede its predecessor in size and importance.

BERSIH’s organisers must be licking their chops at how their planned event has obtained the assists that a flaming opponent and a maladroit force contrived to render them.

A Re-Enactment of 1987?

Earlier this year, we had a hint that Malaysia may well be a police state, at certain times at least. This was when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad disclosed that he was opposed to the ISA detentions of October 1987 when more than a hundred opposition politicians and anti-government social activists were held under the draconian law.

The former Inspector-General of Police, Hanif Omar, chimed in to confirm that indeed Mahathir had expressed his misgivings about the police action but the Police had gone ahead nevertheless.

This was a flagrant contravention of the ISA Act which expressly vests the power to detain a person in the Home Minister and not the Police.  The Home Minister in October 1987 was Mahathir. If he had indeed opposed the use of the Act in dealing with the tense situation that prevailed at that time and if detentions had taken place, which was what happened, then Police power had overridden civil authority.

Likewise these days, we are witness to re-enactments of what transpired in 1987. Even before BERSIH has applied for a police permit for their march, the IGP and his deputy have issued public warnings against the legality of the march despite constitutional guarantees of citizens’ right to peaceful assembly.

Worse, the Police, as of yesterday, have begun to arrest political activists in an attempt to preempt the march planned for July 9. Members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), in Johor Baru on Friday and in Penang yesterday, have borne the initial brunt of this abuse of police power.

Reports say that the Police detained the PSM activists, who were engaged in legitimate political activity, on grounds that they were canvassing for support for the BERSIH march.

Cynical Display of Police Power

Selective and politically motivated detentions by the force are an old story.  In this instance, however, it is done in the teeth of the authorities’ lethargy in dealing with the purveyors of a widely disseminated video allegedly showing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a transaction with a sex worker. Lassitude on the part of the law enforcers is cynical and staggering.

It also reflects amnesia about the context in which morally awakened citizens are prompted to act in concert in the face of cynical displays of police authority.

It is undeniable that one of the reasons UMNO-BN romped to a landslide victory in the March 2004 general election was that under the newly installed prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the government had on the previous December moved to place police power under scrutiny through the creation of a royal commission on the management of the force.

That decision by Abdullah was widely popular and was instrumental in securing his government a landslide endorsement by the electorate three months later.

Fifteen months after the royal commission was instituted, it made public its recommendations in March 2005. What happened was that PM Abdullah wavered in the face of pressure from vested interests in the force against a key recommendation – the creation of an independent panel to look into public complaints of police misconduct.

In retrospect, it can be said that the administration of Abdullah Badawi entered the start of a precipitous decline in its popularity from its heady heights in March 2004 to its loss of BN’s two-thirds parliamentary majority four years later because of the PM’s waffling on police reform.

Now things have gone beyond the question of prime ministerial vacillation in the face of police power. It is more a case of civil and police authority colluding to shore up each other.

It is in this sense that the BERSIH march is fast becoming a gauge of the extent to which Malaysia has become a quasi-police state in which increasingly illegitimate civil authority and arbitrary police power conspire to repress citizens engaged in the exercise of constitutionally protected rights.

20 thoughts on “Cynical Displays of Police Power ahead of BERSIH2.0

  1. Could Najib suffer the same fate as Badawi, if Bersih2.0 protestors are brutally handled by the Federal Reserve Unit of the Royal Malaysian Police? Right now, the incumbent Prime Minister has shown himself to be a leader who launches a lot of mega projects, none of which ever got off the ground.

    His foreign policy is in a tatters, and Malaysia’s standing in ASEAN is steadily but certainly declining. His deals with the Government of Singapore with regard of KTM land in Singapore are not known to Malaysians. In stead, we hear of celebrations recently in Singapore on the handover of KTM land and the mainstream media dramatize the event, calling it the last train out of Tanjung Pagar. We celebrate when we give up land which we have held for hundreds of years. In exchange for what and at what development charge? Why no details? Azman Mokhtar of Khazanah Nasional had a lot of explaining to do.

    If he holds elections this year, UMNO-BN will lose more seats. People are sick and tired of listening to stories of mismanagement and corruption in institutions. What is going one?

  2. In the run up to July 9th 2011, there are some pretty interesting video clips being created by some very creative people from within this ” Walk For Freedom ” coalition. One example of a good clip is this one here titled FREEDOM.

    These creative people should be commended , not only for their creativity and excellence, but also for their commitment towards the cause of FREE AND FAIR POLLS.
    Mongkut Bean may not, but I hear you, moid. Bersih2.0 is about the 8 expectations (I won’t use the word demand) for free and fair elections. It is not an Indian woman, threat to Islam, etc. What is better than winning in free and fair elections? The coalition with better ideas and programmes for the rakyat will win. Have no fear but fear itself, says Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his Inaugural Address during the dark days of the Great Recession.–Din Merican

  3. Malaysia is a FASCIST STATE like Myanmmar.

    The Police is a power unto itself.

    Malaysians are born losers because Malaysians are paying the salaries and the lifestyles of these Policemen who are denying the fundamental rights of the citizens.

    Malaysians PAY the salaries of the Police and Riot Squad and in return Malaysians are given tear gas, chemical laced water cannons, rubber bullets….

    Born Losers for allowing the Police to be a power unto itself.

  4. Malaysians pay their salaries? Where did you get that idea Frank? We pay taxes to UMNO and they pay the salaries of policemen. It is respondeat superior. We can hold UMNO liable for acts within the scope of their employment. But let’s be clear who the master is.

  5. Wonder what they call children spawned by mothers who are/were mentally disturbed.

    moid – June 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Here we have a sick individual insecure in his own skin, unable to come to grips with his own ego, who stooped so low to insult the mothers of the world whenever he is unable to use the little that is between his ears to make a valid argument.

  6. I’m waiting to hear you make a valid argument to this posting I made earlier:

    “The Federal Constitution of 1957 has race and religion as the common thread woven into the document. It declares that all Malaysians are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law: Article 8. But in the same breath it declares under Article 10 “(b) Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution”. As written the document we call the country’s constitution breathes life into what has been characterized as the politics of race. It feeds on it.

    On the issue of fundamental liberties:

    No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with the law: Article 5. No country that purports to be a democracy uses language like that. As a matter of comparison, the U.S. Constitution uses clear and unequivocal language when it declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …” Congress “shall make no law”. What can be clearer than that?

    On the issue of religion:

    Islam is the religion of the Federation: Article 3. The majority opinion favors an interpretation that legitimizes the use of Malay and Islamic tradition in all ceremonies of state and allows for the use of Malay trappings in state ceremonial functions, if you will. An insignificant and innocuous sounding definition written under “General and Miscellaneous” that seeks to give definition to terms like “Malay” has been used to enslave the Malays, making a mockery of Article 11 Freedom of Religion among others.

    A sacred document like a country’s constitution that is meant to survive the vagaries of time can be amended simply by a two-thirds majority of the votes in Parliament (as opposed to a nation wide referendum) in a country that has a one-party dominant system is not the effect but the cause.”


    Instead of insulting my mother.

  7. I have just read one article in Malaysian Digest (if I get that right) that read ” Why Malays should not support Bersih”. In it, with the usual jumbo-mambo, it talks about how Ambiga supported Lina Joy, therefore she’s an enemy of Islam. The writer must have thought he’s as bright as a shining star except that i think he’s a dimwit who’s dimmer than a black dwarf. He had just assumed that all muslims in Malaysia are malays. Unfortunately for the country, there are many malays in Malaysia who hold to the same mentality too. As I told my cousin, who seems to be going in that direction, asking for a clean and transparent governance transcends the boundaries of race and religion. Isn’t Islam against everything corrupt?

  8. We pay taxes to UMNO and they pay the salaries of policemen. -Mr Bean

    Therefore it is Confirmed: Malaysia IS a FASCIST State.

    I wonder why the bloghost does not agree with me.

  9. I was visiting a dying friend this afternoon and came a cross a small book “When Death is Near” Glancing through it, it dawn on me that the symptoms described in the book closely resemble the actions of UMNO/BN. For those interested here’s the link:
    So UMNO is on its deathbed and preparing for the eventual departure. All it’s caregivers are converging to witness the moment when the black figures come to snatch the soul. That is why UMNO is so afraid of Bersih.

  10. I will have to disagree with the blog’s decorated soldier, the winner of three purple hearts, retired U.S. Marine Ibrahim (Semper Fi). UMNO is not about to make its dying declaration. On the other hand, it has given itself a new lease on life.

  11. Wonder what they call children spawned by mothers who are/were mentally disturbed.

    moid – June 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Here we have a sick individual insecure in his own skin, unable to come to grips with his own ego, who stooped so low to insult the mothers of the world whenever he is unable to use the little that is between his ears to make a valid argument.


    I’m still waiting for this pussy to respond.

  12. UMNO is not about to make its dying declaration. On the other hand, it has given itself a new lease on life.= Bean

    A new lease in life by making a deal and selling its soul to the devil.

    Maybe just like in the previous crisis UMNO was declared illegal and a new UMNO came into being.

  13. Excuse me guys (including Achmed), if i may present you with my poor diagnosis of the Entity called Nu-Life UMNO:

    Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis.
    For a diagnosis of BPD, at least 5 of the following criteria must be met:

    Interpersonal hypersensitivity:
    Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment;
    Fluctuating between extremes of idealization and devaluation, resulting in a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships;

    Affective dysregulation:
    Marked mood reactivity, such as intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting for a few hours and rarely more than a few days, causing affective instability;
    Inappropriate, intense anger or problems with anger management, resulting in frequent displays of temper, constant anger, and/or recurrent physical fights;
    Chronic feelings of emptiness;

    Impulsive, potentially self-damaging behavior in 2 or more of the following areas: excessive spending, inappropriate sexual behavior, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating;
    Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats or self-mutilating behavior;

    Other criteria:
    Disturbed sense of identity with markedly, persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;
    Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

    If you need any further clarification, kindly contact Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, GA or US Army medical Command, Fort Detrick MA; besides your local veterinarian who specializes in Kerbau. Kindly insist that the Vet anesthesize this dangerous beast first.

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