Friday, May 9, 2008

We do have choices

"Yes, they might be criminals. And they may be criminals out of choice. But life never really gave them too many choices. Some turn to crime out of greed. But many turn to crime out of sheer need and desperation. And these are the faces I saw in prison, faces of people whom life offered not many choices. But then one of these faces may be the last face I see. One of these faces may be that of the one sent to do the evil deed of those who feel I have brought the spotlight back onto a murder trial that was almost buried and forgotten if not for the article I had written" - Uncle Pete (09052008)

After reading Uncle Pete's article today, I decided to mellow down on my dislike towards policemen. Fear and distrust lingers in the air whenever they are around just because they tried to tackled me while doing their duties. And the way they stared at you made me feel naked and insecured. Yes, i trust my instincts more than i trust people especially policemen. How could they protect me from rapists? Even Lawyer Haris Ibrahim was arrested / harrassed for holding a candle light vigil in Dataran Merdeka. Who should we go to when we need help? Should we go to them? Instead, we might be told that it is our mistake that such cruelty/robbery happened to us and it happened to others too. So, why bother lodge a police report? Hmmmm...
Sometime last year, as my brother was driving me to my sis' place, he told me that his housemate was arrested by police after 2 groups of teen fought near his burger stall over a girl. Someone was stabbed. Police was called to the scene. Apparently, the boy who stabbed is a son to person connected to powerful people in the police force and his group made stories that my brother's friend was the one that caused the fight. My brother's friend was remanded at a lock-up in his underwear and the police did not even bother to contact his family.
My brother was trying to help him but every time my brother and his other friends went to the police station, they were asked to persuade his friend to confess and settle the case for lesser punishment. I met my brother's friend before and I felt so sad and helpless but I told my brother to contact the parents so they could help. His friend didn't want them to tell his parents out of concern not to worry them as they are not that rich and they have had enough problems in the family.
After almost a week spent in the lock-up, eating rotten food (no jokes) and sleeping on the floor amongst many others in a small area, his parents came to the station and argued on what basis was his son being arrested. The policemen told his father that he was suspected to cause the fight that resulted in one boy being stabbed and now hospitalised. His father was smart enough to raise the issue on any witness to the fight and of course, none came forward. To cut long story short, my brother's friend was released (with no bail) as the policemen did not have prima facie to charge him. The father said that he will sue the police force for such wrongful arrest but the policemen chuckled and said that he can try and in the end, he will only get RM1.
After a week absence from work, he was fired. I am not sure if he has a job now. Such an injustice. He was manning his burger stall to earn more money so he could get married to someone he loves. He lost his job and his burger stall. Above all, he lost his love too.
I am sure there are many wrongful arrest, just like our Uncle Pete and my brother's friend. How long are we going to allow this to happen?
As told by the prison warden, Sungai Buloh Prison is overcrowded (every offences are criminal ones - easy job for them while getting these people to be tried, perhaps, 5-10 years later) and understaffed (too low a salary yet physically and emotionally demanding work).
Though some are very much corrupted (under pretext that they are underpaid, which is true) and inhuman (lack use of brain), some do not have choices but stay in the force to earn their living. Someone told me back then that surveys were made on policemen and their family. It is not shocking to find out that many of their children ended up in negative activities and performed badly in school because these kids were fed by their parents from 'sumber-sumber haram'. Until their parents break away from such practise, this cycle of life will go on for generations to come.
I passed by Sungai Buloh Prison on my way to work back in Malaysia. Many of the staff quarters were in the dark i.e. no one lives in these quarters. I was told that many left because the salary does not commensurate with the kind of commitment, demand and risks these wardens have to face everyday.
Even a good man will be at the edge of turning into a bad guy because if you cant beat them, join them right? I work with an organisation with majority of the staff having government-servant mentality (low productivity, too many tea breaks, no accountability, the government owes them their salary and inspire to retire with the organisation) and I know how difficult to work around these people and many times, I feel like giving up but Alhamdullilah, I still have faith that one day I could make some changes and make them see that we are working for the people and thus, we need to safeguard their interest with high integrity. I vow that I should not allow fear to stop me from doing what is right and just.
I pray that the prison warden (that persuaded Uncle Pete to agree to bail) and many others out there remains strong and May Allah bless them and their families. Doa orang-orang yang teraniaya makbul... We do have choices to bring justice to life - to the detainees and the good policemen and prison wardens. Let's start now.

No comments: