Roman poet Juvenal once wrote a Latin phrase which can be literally translated to “Who will guard the guards themselves?” In this day and age, the phrase may be more aptly reworded to “Who polices the policemen?”
It is no secret that among the force that is supposed to protect civilians, some bad apples exist. Unfortunately, two young hawkers encountered such policemen while preparing to open shop on the first day of the total lockdown or FMCO.
On 2nd June, the two siblings (21 and 13) were heading to their stall in Kepong to prepare for business at 6:30am. The oldest sibling stated they had successfully applied for a business letter from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). As they were passing the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), they were intercepted by three policemen on patrol. The policemen searched their vehicle and found the soup they had boiled for their business. They suspected the siblings were concealing drugs and dumped the soup on the group to check. “They poured (at least) 33 cups of medicinal soup that took five hours to boil in front of me,” the 21-year-old lamented. “This was not only a waste of my efforts, I was also prevented from doing business that day. I lost at least RM300 to RM400!”
Additionally, the policemen asked to see the MITI letter. The boys failed to produce it so they were questioned by the police. According to the 21-year-old, the policemen told him to pay a fine of RM1,500 per person. If they could not pay the fine, they would be arrested. “I said that I had only started my business two months ago, so I was not able to pay,” he stated. As his wallet, IC and mobile phone had been confiscated, he was sure the policemen knew how much he was carrying. “I bargained (with them to drop the price) from RM3,000 to RM500. They reluctantly accepted (the cash and) released us,” he said.
The entire inspection took over an hour and the boys didn’t manage to identify the policemen because they were all wearing helmets and masks. As they were panicked by the incident, the duo didn’t record the license plates of the policemen’s motorbikes. The incident affected them badly and they did not dare open their stall for two days. They kept quiet about the incident but eventually told Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng. Lim made a post on Facebook about it and it caught the police’s attention.
Sentul district police chief ACP Beh Eng Lai stated in a press conference on Sunday (6th June) that they are investigating the matter. “The MP (Lim) and the two individuals involved in the incident will be called up to help in the investigation,” he said. ” The police view the allegations very seriously and will not hesitate to act against the three policemen if misconduct is proven.” The case is being investigated under Section 384 (exhortation) of the Penal Code.
Yesterday (8th June), the police apparently summoned the victim’s family and girlfriend for a statement about the case. MP Lim was dissatisfied with the summons, saying they were “not involved in the matter, nor were they present at the time of the incident“. “They have nothing to do with the incident,” he stated. “Such a request by the police is quite unreasonable.”
The police clarified the issue this morning (9th June) during an interview with China News. According to Beh, they have determined that the victim’s complaint was authentic. They are currently identifying the people involved as they have not ruled out the possibility of someone pretending to be a policemen to blackmail the victim. He also mentioned that they are covering all angles in the investigation, which is why they summoned the victim’s family and girlfriend. They were gathering more details to avoid being careless and sloppy in their investigation.
The police are now waiting to record a statement from MP Lim. They have also dropped the summons for the parents as they conceded that the parents were elsewhere at the time of the incident.
Hopefully the case will be cleared up soon for the two boys and justice can be served. If policemen are allowed to get away with such things, are citizens truly safe in their own country? After all, who polices the policemen?