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Misplaced Priorities for the Police

Catching the wrong criminals is hardly the wisest thing to do.

Written by johnleemk on 1:45:25 pm Jun 18, 2007.

Today I heard a little bit of incredulous news. A couple of hundred protesters in Johor (yes, the same state governed by a waste of oxygen) gathered outside the Chief Minister's residence to demonstrate against the state police's poor record.

They certainly have good reason to. All over the country, the middle class are relying more and more on private guards instead of the police, which is badly in need of reform anyway.

The statistics reportedly indicate that Johor is second only to Selangor in terms of the crime rate. (Strangely enough, there have been no such protests in Selangor.)

These protesters were eventually set on by, yes, the police, who apparently have nothing better to do. Why hunt down a rapist or burglar when you can detain people who are attending an unlawful gathering?

The misplaced priorities of the police force and our government in general are disturbing. They are supposed to serve the people, but they seem to seek to suppress them instead.

In Malaysia, it often seems that the police is a tool of political repression rather than of law enforcement. Certainly, the intellectual climate is greatly suffocated by fear of the long arm of the law, which clearly has no worse offender to track down than an academic who said the wrong thing.

This should not be. As a democracy, Malaysia is a country where the citizens come before the government — not the other way around. The government should be in fear of the citizen's power, not the citizen in fear of the government's power.

And even if you don't subscribe to this thinking, I suggest you have to have very warped and perverse priorities if you think the Johor police had nothing better to do than to arrest a couple of demonstrators from a local non-governmental organisation.

It's high time our government got its priorities straight. If you want to arrest your citizens, it might be wiser to start with those who have actually harmed other citizens, instead of those who have just highlighted problems with our society in a way that happens to contravene the law without causing actual damage to anyone.