Police should adopt principles of democratic policing to protect the people and not just the government

The Police has rightly apologised for wrongly uploading a picture of an injured man claiming that it was a police officer on duty during the New Year’s Eve anti-price hikes protest at Dataran Merdeka.

The force’s official Facebook had uploaded a picture of a shirtless man with a head injury who was bleeding profusely that it assumed was a police offier on duty during the anti-price hike rally on Tuesday night.

The picture was denounced by many netizens who pointed out that it was inconsistent with the police’s own statement that the three officers injured on duty were only injured on their arms.

The police admitted to the mistake and apologised for the “carelessness in uploading a picture assumed to be a police officer who got injured while on duty on New Year’s Eve”.

A police statement said PDRM “has no intentions of making the situation any worse” and that police officers were “normal humans” who are “prone to mistakes”.

This is a very serious matter. How could such a mistake happen. Which police officer or officers were responsible and what actions are being taken to ensure that it would not be repeated?

It is good to see the PDRM being humble enough to apologise and admit its mistake, although nobody is sure whether the police would have been so swift to admit its mistakes if it had not been caught red-handed in the age of instant communication in the Internet era, not only by netizens who immediately pointed out to the inconsistency of the police’s own statement and the picture uploaded, but by the person in the photograph himself, Mohd Zulhilmi Mustafar.

Zulhilmi was injured after being assaulted on December 29 and he had lodged a police report to clarify that he had not participated in the New Year’s Eve celebrations or protest.

Be that as it may – whether the police’s swift apology for the mistake in wrongly uploading the photograph of a person bleeding profusely and falsely claiming that he was a police office injured at Dataran Merdeka was genuine or forced – the Police should show real remorse.

It can do this by beginning to adopt the principles of democratic policing to protect the people and not just the government.

It is for instance no business of the police to adopt any political stance against Malaysians who wish to exercise their fundamental right to peacefully protest against the series of price hikes which undermine the economic plight of the majority of Malaysians by making baseless claims about a fictitious plot to “topple the government”.

In fact, the police should apologise for such a baseless allegation if it is prepared to show a new face of democratic policing to protect the people and not just the government.

Similarly, it is most improper for the Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order director Salleh Mat Rashid yesterday to make another far-fetched allegation, that the New Year’s Eve anti-price hike protest was “merely a ploy engineered by certain quarters bent on a bigger agenda to cripple the country’s democratic system”.

Nobody would be surprised if such an allegation had come from BN/Umno cybertroopers or one of the trigger-happy BN/Umno Ministers, but it reflects very poorly on the independence, integrity and professionalism of the police for any top police officer to indulge in such fanciful speculations – like the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s “fairy tale” plot on New Year’s Eve to “topple the government” as if Malaysia is a “basket case country” on the verge of political and economic collapse at any moment.

The police should leave irresponsible politicking to BN/UMNO Ministers, leaders and cybertroopers so as not to jeopardise its independence, integrity and professionalism, both among Malaysians and outside the country.

In this connection, I call on the police to give top priority to fighting crime to keep crime low so as to ensure high quality and standards of safety and security for Malaysians, investors and tourists instead of draining police resources on such “wild goose chase” as trying to prosecute and persecute those who took part in the New Year’s Eve anti-price hike protests.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah