Police Reputation Going Down the Toilet?

By Kee Thuan Chye

Hahahaha! So the story now is that some policemen lost their guns while they were taking a pee, izzit? And this was revealed in Parliament by the guy who has just been elected Umno vice-president!

Did the guns drop into the toilet bowl and got flushed down?

Well, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not provide the gory details when he was giving his written answer in Parliament to a question raised by Opposition MP Tian Chua about the Auditor-General’s having reported that the police lost 44 loaded firearms between 2010 and 2012.

However, Zahid did also reveal that some guns were lost when cops got mugged. Woh! Cops getting mugged? Imagine that! If cops can get mugged, what hope is there for ordinary people?

Cops are crime-busters. They are supposed to apprehend muggers. How do they get mugged instead? Are they not fit to be cops? How did they get hired in the first place? Is that why crime is on the rise?

No wonder only last week, the New York Times ran a report highlighting the “soaring crime rate that has blighted Kuala Lumpur, previously considered one of Asia’s safest cities, and other urban areas across Peninsular Malaysia”.

It said that the United States Embassy in KL was prompted to send this warning to American citizens in the city: “Remember to carry your backpack or purse on the shoulder AWAY from the road to prevent having it snatched by motorbikers.”

It quoted a Malaysian criminologist saying, “There are a lot of people not reporting crimes, because they feel there’s nothing the police can do.”

OMG! We are becoming known throughout the world for the wrong reasons. Where do the police hide their faces?

Come to think of it, how did they feel when their own chief, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar, responded to the Auditor-General’s report three weeks ago by saying that the lost guns could have fallen into the sea? Did they squirm with embarrassment or did they applaud the IGP for providing comic relief?

Strangely, though, in his written reply to Tian Chua, Zahid did not give falling into the sea as one of the ways the police lost their guns. Why is that? Is the home minister not communicating with the IGP although the police force comes under his ministry? They can’t get their stories straight?

And yet they both seem to be outdoing each other in sounding laughably ridiculous!

Is it not enough that Malaysia has become an international laughing stock because of the Court of Appeal’s verdict against the Catholic weekly The Herald using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God? Is it not enough that Malaysia lost dignity and honour over its refusal to even allow Chin Peng’s ashes to be brought home from Thailand?

Must we add to our notoriety by earlier saying that the guns of our policemen fell into the sea, and now that they got lost while the policemen were in the toilet?

By the way, what does it take to qualify as a minister or an IGP these days? The ability to talk stupid?

Actually, Zahid gave five reasons for the loss of the guns. The other three were that they were:

* mislaid in the office,

* stolen from a vehicle, and

* dropped in the course of duty.

However you look at it, you cannot but conclude that they all smack of negligence.

How could something as important as a gun – a weapon of destruction – get mislaid in the office? How big could the office be that a search for the missing item would not be able to locate it? Why, in the first place, was the officer so careless as to leave the weapon lying around that it might somehow sprout legs and crawl away?

And how could a gun be stolen from a vehicle? Why did the officer responsible for it leave it there? Did he also leave a note on the dashboard saying, “Gun on board, car safe”? Shouldn’t he be carrying the weapon with him all the time? Is he not provided with a holster to tuck the gun in?

As for dropping a gun in the course of duty, it might happen if the officer was involved in a chase after a suspect on foot or engaged in fisticuffs with one – and credibility could indeed be given to this reason. Yes, we could cut the officer some slack. Nonetheless, it is still incumbent on him to check that the gun is intact in his holster after the chase or fight is over. If not, he is being irresponsible or careless.

To be sure, Zahid again did not provide the gory details for these reasons, so we may just have to wait for him to be probed for them. And who knows? He might outdo himself with the answers.

On the whole, however, this business of the police losing guns is shocking and shameful. It compounds the public perception of their incompetence at battling crime. The criminologist’s observation reverberates with painful truth: “There are a lot of people not reporting crimes, because they feel there’s nothing the police can do.”

How will the police bring back their pride? Would it require a complete overhaul of the police force?

How will they save their reputation from going down the toilet?

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

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