Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Little Napoleons: Another Saga Continues

Written by johnleemk on 9:48:43 pm Mar 13, 2007.

My favourite English language daily in Malaysia, at the present, is the Sun. It might have more advertisements than news, but it has a lot more news than any of the other newspapers in the country, which seem to think propaganda is newsworthy.

Today, the Sun carried its usual weekly column by R. Nadeswaran, a journalist with a penchant for unearthing the most unearthly tales of corruption and abuse of authority that you can imagine. This is the kind of news that would never make the pages of any other newspaper, simply because in this country, you don't make that kind of trouble, you know?

Anyhow, Nadeswaran today carried the story of a man who was "escorted" (according to the President of the Klang Municipal Council) to a police station by a parking attendant, when the man complained about the attendant issuing a ticket. Some physical violence ensued. That's the official story.

The full story, according to Nadeswaran, is less mundane than one might think from the official version of the facts. Apparently, the complainant, Pua Chia Teng, wasn't even the owner of the vehicle, but the brother of the vehicle's owner. And according to surveillance camera footage, the "escorting" was marked by violence, whereby the complainant was kicked in the calves and literally dragged away.

Pua wasn't accused or suspected of anything, unless it's suddenly a crime to have a brother who is accused of parking illegally. He wasn't being summoned as a witness, but even if he was, I don't think there any procedures for summoning witnesses that include physical violence. (In the UK, the courts have held that if you want to bring someone in for questioning, you either arrest him, or you don't — there's no middle ground.)

And, of course, parking attendants are not officers of the Royal Malaysian Police. They are employees of the local authorities, but not police officers in their own right. If they are to make a citizen's arrest, they can only do it if they have reason to believe that the person they intend to arrest has committed a crime.

It's thus clear that several crimes have been committed here. Nadeswaran names them as "assault, abduction and wrongful confinement". In addition, I think Pua can sue the parking attendants and the MPK on grounds of trespass to the person, as he was subjected to both battery and false imprisonment (the latter being a fancy legal phrase for being held against one's will).

Nadeswaran quotes a councilman and state assemblyman as calling Pua's unlawful arrest the "darkest day in the history of the MPK". Perhaps it is. But whatever you want to call it, it makes dreadfully clear to all how in this country, it seems that our local authorities view themselves as above the law, and able to do as they wish without concern for the laws that govern this land.

As Nadeswaran says, to make things right, the Police must vehemently prosecute this case. A survey on corruption recently indicated that the Royal Malaysian Police is the least-trusted institution in this country. If they want to set themselves back on the right path, it wouldn't hurt to start by prosecuting our own little Napoleons, who see fit to disregard the laws that the Police are supposed to enforce.

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