Thursday, May 19, 2022

Reluctance to investigate journalist’s assault needs answers – Terence Fernandez

Reluctance to investigate journalist’s assault needs answers – Terence Fernandez

Reclassification of case involving The Vibes’ reporter could see victim being suspect

Police must clarify its decision not to take further action on the case of a The Vibes’ journalist who had lodged a report of being harassed and manhandled by a security guard at the Urban Transformation Centre in Pudu Sentral not just to her, but also to the general public at large, editor-in-chief of PETRA News Terence Fernandez opines. – Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia pic, May 19, 2022

Terence Fernandez

DANG WANGI district police chief Noor Dellhan Yahaya has some explaining to do – not only to The Vibes’ journalist who had lodged a report of being harassed and manhandled by a security guard, but also to the general public at large.

Less than an hour after Qistina Nadia Dzulqarnain lodged a police report over the now viralled May 14 incident at the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) in Pudu Sentral, which also saw the security guard from Sri Lanang Protective Services Sdn Bhd seizing her phone, we were told that police will not be taking further action.

Leaving the Dang Wangi district police headquarters at 7pm, I had not even arrived home when we were informed close to 8pm that the matter has been classified as “Refer to magistrate” (RTM), and that Qistina Nadia will be given a form to fill in the event she intended to pursue a civil case.

If one has any doubts of police’s position on this matter, one can simply refer to this letter (reproduced below) from investigation officer Muhammad Fikri Abdul Manan, who had just an hour prior taken Qistina Nadia’s statement.

The letter reads that “it is not an arrestable offence” and “no further investigation would be conducted”.

This would undoubtedly mean that police had chosen not to investigate the matter further, and this would be tantamount to no further action by police except for the complainant to refer the matter to a magistrate.

One does not have to be an expert in both languages to understand what “Tiada siasatan lanjutan akan dijalankan” as stated in the letter means.

RTM is initiated under Section 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code when police have decided not to investigate a case.

Perhaps following publicity, the OCPD was put on the backfoot, telling Malaysiakini that the case is not closed.

Noor Dellhan must acknowledge that scant attention was paid to this case when the police report indicated the reporter’s wrist was held and her cell phone seized.

He seemed to have also made up his mind that he was not going to pursue this case even as we were pulling out of the car park – without a statement taken from the security guard in question nor witnesses.

Could it be because another government and enforcement agency – the Immigration Department – was involved? Or that the UTC comes under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry?

Lack of action such as this unnecessarily opens police to unhealthy speculation from the public.

Then on Sunday (May 15), Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department (CID) chief Habibi Majinji told The Vibes that the case will be reclassified under Section 160 of the Penal Code – causing an affray or commotion.

Which means both parties – the security guard and our reporter – will be subject to investigations and a possible charge.

Habibi said witnesses will be called, and the parties concerned will be summoned to have their statements taken – something that Dang Wangi should have done in the first place.

Speaking of the Dang Wangi district police headquarters, for the entire two hours that we were there, police personnel were more preoccupied in ensuring we surrendered our cell phones at the guardhouse – despite the video of the incident contained in these phones.

I was kept at the guardhouse for almost an hour, as they decided if I should be allowed to accompany Qistina Nadia and our social media head Lancelot Theseira.

In the pouring rain, they were also adamant that my vehicle should not be parked in police premises.

To be fair, the personnel were polite and, in some cases, apologetic, saying this was “orders from the top”.

I was eventually allowed to accompany my colleagues. As my phone had coincidentally (and conveniently) run out of battery, it was left at the guardhouse.

These are misplaced priorities.

It is due to similar experiences that perhaps people are discouraged from lodging police reports, as in some or most cases, after a harrowing experience, the process of lodging a report bears with it its own sets of trauma.

And as in Qistina Nadia’s case, the victim may now become the suspect. – The Vibes, May 19, 2022

Terence Fernandez is editor-in-chief of PETRA News, which publishes The Vibes and its Bahasa Malaysia sister portal Getaran

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