BY AZRUL MOHD KHALIB
SEPTEMBER 21 — The news that a former journalist, his wife and children had been threatened and intimidated at their home by plainclothes police officers in the late hours of the night shocked many of us who heard about it.
Their general conduct during this episode as described by Sidek Kamiso’s wife, Norlin, begs the question whether those involved were acting as law enforcement officials or thugs.
Surely it cannot possibly be the latter. But then, how else can one explain the behaviour of unknown individuals who were not in uniform, not clearly showing official police identification, not having a warrant, banging on the front door demanding entry?
Would you open the door? To persons who come in the dead of night claiming to be police but show no visible sign of being one?
There are many creative and innovative criminals today who could take advantage of our often blind obedience to people claiming to be with authority, speaking in loud and rude voices, and pushing themselves around. We could be robbed instead.
Citizens should be protected from unlawful entry and search of their private homes. Which is why a warrant is necessary.
Only thugs would exhibit that kind of arrogance, depend on intimidation tactics to get cooperation and believe that they can act with impunity and without accountability.
But they were not thugs but our own police officers who we depend on and trust to keep the peace and maintain safety and security.
Law enforcement officers doing their jobs should not be placed, by their superiors or political masters, in a position where they could be at risk of being accused of being the very thing that they are supposed to protect us from.
A few days ago, the Inspector General of Police told Member of Parliament Jeff Ooi to surrender himself or else face arrest. Two other individuals were arrested in Ipoh and Shah Alam.
They were not suspected terrorists, extremists who threatened harm onto others in the name of racial supremacy or criminals plotting villainy.
Instead they were just ordinary citizens making comments online on social media, as most of us do these days. Could any of them be accused of being foolish or stupid in doing so? Sure, but last I checked, it wasn’t a crime to make sarcastic or stupid commentary. It certainly doesn’t justify a predawn police operation.
Those in law enforcement must stop looking at fellow citizens who express opinions as the enemy. Because that is how it appears to be these days.
Stop misusing our women and men in blue and debasing their professionalism by chasing after these imaginary slights. There are real security concerns and threats out there which need better attention.
Consider what all of this fuss has been about. Tweets, mostly irreverent and cynical, produced in response to news of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din’s passing. Tweets which have been deemed to be allegedly “insulting Islam” in nature.
Let’s get something straight. It is not possible; it never has ever been possible to insult Islam. This faith has been around for more than 1,400 years. It has survived armed conflict, sectarian wars, systematic and institutionalised persecution, and genocide.
I can imagine that Islam and Muslims can take a few tweets which are cheeky and disrespectful. Have a little faith in the resiliency and durability of your own religion lah.
Equating Ustaz Haron Din to Islam would also be blasphemous. I can just imagine his disapproval (I grew up in his neighbourhood) with people who interpreted these comments to somehow be insulting to the religion.
It is this sort of conduct, insecurity and lack of self-control by those self-anointed or self-appointed “champions of the faith” which are embarrassing and dangerous.
It is they who are influencing others to act in ways we could not imagine possible just 10 years ago. Mostly in the name of supposedly defending race and religion. Meanwhile, actual hate speech often goes unaddressed and ignored.
Yet how many of us will speak up? Some have already done so, and I hope many more will continue to stand up and speak out against injustice, tyranny and oppression.
We do not want to become a thug state.
My thoughts and support are with Sidek Kamiso, Norlin and their family, the two unnamed individuals from Ipoh and Shah Alam and their families, as well as Jeff Ooi.