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04 January 2011

The police – devil or guardian angel?

When I was a child and refused to obey my parents, they would threaten me by saying, “The police will come to catch you.”

So in my impression, the police are like devils that catch naughty children. When I grew up, the negative perception is still lingering deep in my conscience. Even if I had never done anything illegal, whenever I come across a police road block, I would still feel a little nervous.

The police system is to help maintain law and order, and to protect the people and their property.

In the popular Hong Kong TV police drama series, a policeman is always addressed as “Sir”, someone perceived to be wise, brave, and always killing the evil criminals to the satisfaction of everyone. But in real life, unfortunately such a character does not exist.

It has been complained that the “police will catch you” intimidating style of education has caused our children to grow up in fear of the police and is detrimental to the police image.

But getting to the bottom of the matter, the change of police into the devil incarnate is not just a product of imagination, but has its historical roots in social development.

In the early days, police officers became proud once they donned their uniforms, and relying on their power, they went around demanding for kopi-money. They had become the gods of plague in the citizens’ lives, and people would try to avoid them as much as possible. Over the years, this has become a stereotype. Until today, in many citizens’ minds, the policeman is still a huge shadow to avoid.

Recently, police beating incidents have occurred one after another, and again have become a cause for concern.

The abuse of police power must stop, as the use of violence will only worsen the image of the force.

Whether for civilians or for criminals, the police must exercise self-restraint. The duty of the police is to apprehend lawless people and maintain law and order. The offender should be submitted to legal sanctions, and the police should not inflict violence upon them.

Under the rule of law, police powers are subject to the constraints of the justice system. The police are not judges, and have no right to determine whether a person is guilty or not and also have no right to execute any penalty privately.

Recently, the government launched the “mobile police” programme, in which the police mobiles came into the community neighbourhood. In addition to improving the efficiency of arrests of criminals, the government would like to narrow the gap between the police and the citizens.

When I saw the heavily armed police personnel who sat in the small space of the police vehicle on such a hot day working in earnest and even occasionally smiling at passersby on their own initiative, my impressions of the police began to change.

However, one bad egg can spoil the whole basketful. If the police abuse cases are not eradicated, and police officers involved are not subjected to discipline and dealt with, the vicious and domineering image of the police will be difficult to erase. And the police efforts to improve their image will fail. Police are not hooligans; they need to establish respect and authority, not abuse their power.

The government transformation programme is in full swing. The citizens are also hoping that the police can catch the train of transformation simultaneously across the country, and thereby create a progressive and harmonious society together.

I hope that one day the police’s image in the hearts of the people can change from that of the devil to become the guardian angel of the people. —


There are definitely some bad cops in the PDRM who abuse the uniform.
The IPCMC would help curb these criminals and also help regain the trust of the people.

It seems the police report of a rapist Minister had been squashed and that must have provided one of the reasons why the PDRM chiefs were able to resist the formation of the IPCMC.

We need to put this right urgently.

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