To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
- Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1)
Malaysiakini letter - Selective use of handcuffs reflects badly on cops by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
|Ong Sing Yee handcuffed|
These two youths were part of the crowd during the Merdeka eve gathering that allegedly stomped and stepped on the pictures of some national leaders.
Let me be clear that I do not approve nor condone their nasty actions.
I agree that what they have done is wrong and unfortunate.
Indeed, there are more reasonable, more appropriate and much intellectually sharper ways of exercising their right to express their political views, such as engaging in a public debate, starting a blog, writing to the various newspapers, joining a political party, forming an NGO, etc.
However, having said that, the brutal question must be posed, no matter how inconvenient and uncomfortable, which is; why did our young act the way they did during that event on the eve of the Independence Day?
What led them to do these outrageous acts, which were unthinkable twenty to thirty years ago?
What was the root or source of their angst, rage and frustrations?
Their actions may have offended some of our people's senses, outraged some quarters of their morality and sense of propriety, and mocked our long held values and beliefs; yet let us clearly and objectively analyse the whole thing with open eyes and open minds.
What went wrong? Did we as a society, community and as a country fail the dreams and aspirations of our young?
For instance, as Lim Kit Siang categorically stated in one speech:
"Why was it necessary to handcuff Ong as if she was a dangerous character when she surrendered herself to the police, which itself is an acknowledgment on her part that what she did was wrong and her preparedness to face the consequences."
|Ling Liong Sik without handcuff|
Even deputy youth and sports minister Gan Ping Sieu said that "there was no need for the police to handcuff a 19 year old girl who turned herself in for allegedly stepping on the prime minister's picture".
It is a well-settled rule in all civilised and professional criminal jurisdictions that the law enforcements are only justified and mandated by the law to put the handcuff on the following instances:
2. When, in the presence of the law enforcers, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
3. When an offense has just been committed and the law enforcers has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;
|Khir Toyo without handcuff|
5. When the person to be arrested is armed with a deadly weapon known as a notorious criminal, and reputedly had a dangerous character; and
6. A person who is mentally stable and acting in a manner that is detrimental and prejudicial to the public.
I certainly believe that Ong is not included in any of these categories or specific instances.
Hence, I also question the propriety of the action undertaken by the police in putting the handcuffs on her.
It is clear from the reports that Ong surrendered to the police and voluntarily placed herself in the jurisdiction of the law.
What is the point or the purpose of putting her in handcuffs?
Yes, I admit that this 19-year old girl has committed a wrong act, yet in the same vein, the very inhumane act of the police on putting her on handcuffs; that is after she already surrendered peacefully to their jurisdiction is also wrong and utterly sinister.
In my view, the police are guilty of overkill. What they did was grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction.
Their excessive act of showing their authority is a vulgar display of power.
|Was Mr 'Bright Future' handcuffed?|
These are pertinent questions and they deserved to be answered squarely by the relevant authorities concerned.
Another unreasonable display of power that I wish to highlight is the case of the so-called ‘mooning' student of the Cybernatics International College of Technology which has expelled him "for flashing his buttocks at pictures of the county's leaders during the Janji Demokrasi rally".
An officer of the said college said that: "The matter was given all due consideration by the disciplinary and academic board.
Based on the evidence, they decided that the student should be expelled for breach of college's charter."
According further to the reports, the student cannot appeal against the decision as it was final.
I am wondering, if the said student had done the same to one of the leaders of the opposition, would the said college expel him?
Another question in my mind is; was the mooning student expelled because he has shown his buttocks to the pictures of the national leaders or for breach of the college's charter?
I cannot help but state that I could detect an undeniable sense of selective prosecution with regard to the cases.
If an action is to be taken, then it should be the same for all.
The police should also arrest these hoodlums and hooligans who disrupt the meetings and gatherings of the opposition.
How about those idiots and morons who engaged in a butt exercise outside the house of Ambiga?
Why were they not arrested?
The police had also detained two youths who displayed the Sang Saka Malaya flag on Merdeka Eve.
When questioned by the police, they denied that they wanted to replace the national flag Jalur Gemilang.
The youths stated that they were merely engaged in an exercise to bring attention to a certain aspect of history.
I believe that the acts of these youths are protected by the constitutional provision on the freedom of expression.
In my view, those youths who raised the said flag were also raising some issues and points for the public and the whole country to reflect and to ponder upon.
Their action is an extension of what is on their minds.
In the case of Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S.46 (1988), the United States Supreme Court speaking through Chief Justice Rehnquist stated that:
"At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern.
The freedom to speak one's mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty - and thus a good unto itself - but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.
We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions."
If our police will not be consistent, persistent and brave enough to do the right thing at all times and that is upholding and implementing the law, without fear or favor, without bias and one-sidedness, regardless of whoever violated it, whether they belong to the administration or the opposition; then do not ever expect the trust, respect and confidence of the public.
They may be the ones who enforce the law, but they should never ever forget even for a single moment that in all democratic forms of government, the ultimate source of all state powers are the people themselves.
Sovereignty resides in the rakyat and all government authority emanates from them.