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Friday, April 30, 2010

Did we kill Aminulrasyid?

By Nathaniel Tan

APRIL 30 — Some  friends of mine were once robbed at the cybercafe which we frequent (yes, still addicted to Dota). The men came in with parangs, threatened everyone, collected the goods and tried to make their escape.

One man wasn’t able to start his getaway motorcycle quickly enough, and this cost him dearly. Most of the cybercafe came out, descended on him and, well, beat the crap out of him.
This, I understand, is not an entirely uncommon fate for robbers and thieves who are caught by a mob.
Apparently, it is not an uncommon fate for those caught by the police either.
When I first blogged about the death of Kugan, more than a few commentators wrote and said things like: “He deserved it”, “Why should you care about a car thief?” and so on. Oddly, this debate still takes place on said blog post, well over a year after it was written.
Some of my loved ones have also expressed certain sentiments about how justice for these petty criminals cannot be served within our sluggish judicial system, and that sometimes what they really need is a good box around the ears that no one else really needs to know about. Maybe nothing too severe you know? Just rough him up a little?
Well, I posit that we have seen this last week just how and where this line of thinking ends.
With the possible exception of Datuk Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil, who seems to think once again that this is all the parents fault, everyone is disgusted at the shooting of Aminulrasyid Amzah.
John Lee and I have literally put together a whole book on the subject of police brutality, and I think for me to continue such a critique here would be to flog a near dead horse.
I hope today to discuss public attitudes instead.
Everyone hates crime. I hate crime. An attack by snatch thieves left my mom immobile for days, and traumatised for much longer.
A lot of us want revenge. Inspired perhaps by movies like “Taken”, where Liam Neeson “heroically” puts a bullet in the head of dozens of men who stand between him and his daughter, we want to see an eye for an eye type of justice.
It’s an understandable sentiment, it really is; but we have to go beyond it.
The simple truth is the minute we start sliding down that slippery slope of “it's OK to rough up the ‘real’ bad guys just a little bit”, it won’t be long until we create the type of police force that shoots and kills unarmed 14-year-olds.
Can we say the signs weren’t there?
I have this feeling the Hindraf gang will ask why no one kicked up a fuss with the near hundreds of cases of Indians being victims of extrajudicial killings — most of them shot in the same way Aminulrasyid was?
No one likes racial thinking either, but the facts in such a contention remain. No one can deny that our police force has a reputation (among those who care and pay attention at least) for being a little trigger happy.
As recently as in Hulu Selangor, a victim of police shooting — whose experience is remarkably similar to Aminulrasyid’s and the other person in the car with him — was trying to seek justice from BN politicians too busy peddling promises and bribes.
Norizan Salleh — a slightly built single mother — said that in October last year in Segambut, similar to Aminulrasyid and his companion, the car she was in was shot at and pushed off the road. She was then dragged out of the car, kicked and beaten, after already being hit five times by gunfire. Unlike Aminulrasyid, she managed to escape with her life.
Perhaps if we Malaysians made enough noise about Norizan’s case, it may have given the cops who shot Aminulrasyid a little pause for thought before they did a near re-enactment of Norizan’s scene in Shah Alam, fired at will and took away that young boy's life.
I wish I could say for sure that had I been there that day, I might have tried to stop those cybercafe patrons from beating that robber; but I don't know if I would have had the guts.
If I had — if we had — that kind of guts, maybe we can save the lives of the next few Aminulrasyids, Kugans and Teoh Beng Hocks.


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