Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Extreme Punishment

The whole of last week, many people have been actively discussing about the so-called victim of a trigger-happy policeman. And the case is even more interesting because the victim was a 15 year old boy.

Of course the police have their version of the story. An apparently suspicious-looking characters in a car which sped off, resulting in a chase, thus running through several red lights. The culprit behind the wheels was a 15-year old boy, a fact which I think could not have been obvious to the policemen. The boy then allegedly tried to reverse into the policemen, and one of the latter opened fire and one shot hit the head of the boy.

However, a friend of the dead boy who survived the whole thing has a different version of the story. They were not really running away from the policemen. Well, at least not at first. Instead they were running away from some motorcyclists. Some parts of his story appear to be similar to those of the police, except for the one where his friend was trying to reverse into the policemen.

And of course the mother of the boy only wants justice for her dead son. Now that's a very big word. If there is still such a thing as justice in Malaysia, I'm not so sure it will be forthcoming any time soon. But I hope the poor mother will eventually get it anyway.

The whole episode does reveal an interesting thing about the Malaysian police—people don't generally have very high regard of them this lately. Contrary to what the IGP said, I don't think people are against the police safe-guarding our streets. In fact, I still believe most people would like to have more police personnel keeping the streets safe. I think people are getting a bit tired of some of the reported police (mis)conducts.

A woman was ordered to strip down and then squat up and down in the nude on the excuse of hopefully finding something that might emerged from one of the holes down there. And then someone conveniently recorded the whole thing with a phone video camera.

A young man arrested on grounds of suspected car theft ended up dead with serious bruises all over his body, and no one would admit any beatings on the poor chap.

Not to forget an unarmed woman who was shot in the head and then blown up into pieces in the jungle.

If the people's trust in the police had deteriorated in recent times, can the IGP really blame the people?

But I'd like to think that the police is still, on balance, the good people. I wonder what would have been the public's reaction had the dead person behind the wheels been, say, a hardcore criminal wanted for serial murder and rape? Maybe some of those who're criticizing the police now would commend them for a job well done instead?

"What has he done to be called a criminal?" asked the distraught mother.

Being a parent myself, I know a bit about parenthood. Obviously, we all want the very best for our children. In fact, I know that many of us are willing to make very big sacrifices for the sake of our children. The curious thing is that it is very, very easy to see something wrong in other people's children, but when it comes to our own children, we have the strange tendency to become blind!

And it doesn't stop there either. Even if someone else, on grounds of trying to help, tells us that our kids had been naughty because of so and so, we will try our best to find all sorts of excuses not to believe what we're told! It is called denial. We are convinced that we know absolutely everything there is to know about our children. The information from the outsider must be wrong—there must be a mistake somehow!

My brother Dennis makes a good example of this. He sees Audrey's son, Erwin a.k.a. Wiwin, as a problematic kid. Wiwin is about 19 years old and has been smoking for a while now, even though he is still not working yet. He doesn't smoke cheap cigarettes because, according to him, he's not used to them. He has a girlfriend who's several years older than he is. And Wiwin becomes a perfect target by Dennis when there is a need to use an example of a problematic kid.

Now, Dennis himself has two sons. The eldest one is Mohd Aqil who's 15 years old now. The boy behaves like an angel in front of Dennis. He scores well in his exams; he excels in sports and almost beat Uncle Cornelius in chess once! He has won several speech contests in school. He wants to be an Aerospace Engineer or at least a pilot when he grows up. Dennis proudly proclaims that his son is ahead of his classmates by about half a year.

But unfortunately, Mohd Aqil is too clever—even cleverer than his blind father! He uses someone else's phone to chat with his girlfriend when his own cellphone is low on credit (yes, these days, apparently kids must have their own cellphones.) And when he is out with his own friends, he smokes like a chimney. He has been smoking since he's 13!

Therefore, of course Aminulrasyid is a good boy. If he did not die last week, of course he would be able to achieve straight As in his PMR exams later this year. And he would probably become another one of Malaysia's space tourist too when he grows up!

But how did he end up driving a car without a driver's licence at 2am in the morning? Did the mother know anything about that? Maybe she did not do her part to tell her son that that was illegal? And if the son did it secretly, what does that tell us about his character? It doesn't accord well with the description of a "good boy" to me.

If he did not illegally drive the car that night, then he wouldn't have accidentally scratched someone else's car. And there wouldn't have been people chasing after them to get even? And they wouldn't have then run through several red lights, thus attracting the trigger-happy policemen?

Dying because of driving a car without a driver's licence is an extreme punishment, but actually that's not really why he died. There are so many elements involved in the chain of sub-events that led to his death, although it's the bullet from the police that ultimately ended his life. If the boy did not drive the car that night, he would be alive and well today! The mother should reflect about that small detail that could've made all the difference! If you allowed your child to play with fire, then you should also be prepared for the possibility of him getting burnt in the process. Blaming the fire won't really help. But of course it makes sense to try to put out the fire, so that it won't burn other people...


Anonymous said...

After the car crashed into a wall, Azamuddin said he got out of the vehicle and fell into a drain.

At that point, he claimed that one policeman assaulted him, joined later by at least four other officers.

“I managed to escape and made my way home,” he said. - The Star 4 May 2010

I wonder how he managed to escape from 5 policemen. Why do think the policemen let he go? Another version perhaps.

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

I'm quite sure that there are many other versions out there. It is possible that, contrary to the "standard procedure" (hopefully there is one in our police force), the police adopted the "more practical procedure" of beating up the suspect first, and only after they're sure that the suspect is no longer a threat, then start asking the questions.

When you witness a car running through several red lights and the driver refuses to stop, there is that presumption that he must have done something horribly wrong. It is quite possible that the driver is armed and dangerous. He might have committed a serious crime like murder.

In a perfect world, the best thing to do is to try to outrun the speeding car somehow, and then calmly question the driver for his behavior.

But in the real world, the policemen themselves also fear for their lives. The driver may suddenly pull a gun and shoot them. The passenger may suddenly do the same thing. Hence, beat him up first and question him later!

Unfortunately, both boys did not have any weapon on them. And one of them is dead!

Nobody seems to be very concerned about a 15-year old boy driving without a licence at 2am in the morning. It's quite possible that he could've hit and killed someone on the road. Imagine that instead of getting shot in his head, the kid ran over someone and killed him - say a 10-year old kid. How would the public react then? Would the mother admit that her son has done something wrong then?

Cornelius said...

Oh! I am not a clinical psychologist, but I'm pleasantly surprised that someone else shares the same view as mine. Check out this article from The Star today.