Riotous Police, not so righteous

July 4 2008. As this is written -before break for prayer – the men and women of the FRU camp in cheras are training for Sunday morning’s riot control at the Protes gathering at PJ. In two hours many of them will be on prayer mats in mosques, probably sitting next to someone who might be there on Sunday as a protestor.

How surreal.The cheeky question for the Home Minister, Hamid Albar is why are you spending so much time, energy and gas cannisters to worry Malaysians who have been unbelievably restrained despite so much police intimidation and violence.

It is violence when you chuck gas cans into peaceful protestors and then charge them down with chemical shooting cannons accompanied by henchmen with truncheons and shields. Are we just bowling pins for these people, to pick up – lying in the gutter – once they have had their fun with us?

Freedom this Sunday?

I fear that the plot might repeat itself this Sunday as the numbers expected would swell beyond the compound designated for the event. So what? Protest is a democratic right. The oil subsidy is justified or not, depending on which side of the analysis you belong to.

The concept of constant disagreement is seen as subversive by those in power, invoking the hackneyed notion of Asian values excludes strong expression against authority. And that is where the principle of police intervention germinates.

The peasants of Russia in 1905 (which means everyone not linked to the Tsar) were in great torment and gradually expressed their general disagreement, primarily the hunger experienced by themselves and their families. This was considered too disdainful that the Tsar sent out his troops pacify the crowd. 100 dead and 300 injured later, the crowd were adequately pacified.

I know, I know, Umno logic would have a response to this.

They’d say their policy of tear-gassing people even before they can start the protesting has avoided so many deaths and injuries. Pre-crime is best.

Police, Rela and now the Army

The build up of public resentment is seen with great suspicion by the police – and plus the ever ready and mostly illiterate Rela – they want to rope in the military.

Mind you, compared to the Thais, Indonesians and Filipinos, our army has been having a 50 year long picnic. The only active component of the army would be the procurement and false parts divisions. The rest of the time, they are divvying up army surplus stock for the coming winter (that was intended as a pun).

So the cynic would say, ah something for them to do. But I rather have them building bridges and issuing parking tickets than pointing guns at civilians.

In the Philippine Military Academy – their West Point – every trainee will every salute civilian, to indicate civilian authority. To them the military serves the civilian.

How about that eh? They fight communists in the hills still and insurgents in the souths, with bombs and body counts, and still back down to the power of the unarmed man on the street. The taxpayer.

So I am stuck, not sure if our police and all armed authorities are righteous or just riotous.

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