Friday, November 25, 2005

Naked Woman Police Brouhaha

I heard the news. And worse still, later on, I saw a series of stills that purpotively capture the act, as it is, with its pants down. There is, predictably, even commentary about the whole issue.

I’m going to take the best-case scenario and assume the video is fake. Not because I believe it is, or I want to believe that it is (quite the opposite, actually), but I want to show you how effective my argument is, even if the video was proven to be fake.

Malaysians And The Law.

Malaysians have an interesting relationship with the law. The best way we can describe it is, very probably, “If we can ignore it we will.” We’re not very law abiding—pirated goods still sell pretty strong, traffic laws are mostly optional, and generally we’re free to do what we like so long as we pay the monetary price.

It isn’t exactly cynicism, really. Take a look at the news, and you might suddenly realize that if you do have the money and the right connections, you might even get away with murder. Allegedly.

What, Us?

Is there something wrong with us? Some fundamental flaw that makes us incapable of following the law, either through the letter or its spirit? Are Malaysians, genetically, incapable of following the law?

I don’t really think so. Part of it lies with the impression we get from the news—that yes, if you’re clever enough, and if you’re subtle enough, you can escape from anything, on a technicality and public prosecutor incompetence. Crime doesn’t get punished here, not really.

The other reason, the one I’ll be going to at length, is our relationship with the police.

Bad Boys Bad Boys…

The police have been trying to get people to trust on them more for the past few years. You’ve seen the posters and signs—“Rakan COP”, and the like. They’ve been trying to bring the message that the Royal Malaysian Police are competent, transparent, and especially, especially, don’t fucking doubt it or we’ll fucking sue you, bitch, not corrupt.

They’re not succeeding. Partly because, hey, the aren’t exactly competent, transparent and not corrupt, but the solution to that one is particularly obvious—stop being incompetent, not transparent and corrupt. The second reason is a little harder to deal with, and involves a paradigm shift not only in the RMP, but in Malaysian society in general.

What ‘choo Gonna Do When They Come For You?

The police force owes a lot to the Communist Insurgency. When you have an insurgency, folks, your police force needs to be good at several things to enforce the law. One of these things is that you start getting good at—specializing in, even—controlling the populace by fear.

You’ve got to give credit where credit is due, of course—the police are amazingly skilled in some things. If you want someone to handle riot control, you really can do much worse than Malaysian police. If you want checkpoints, same thing. Ditto suppressing terrorism and the like. Our cops are just that good1.

The problem is, the real problem behind all of this is that they haven’t moved with the times.

Cops, Actually.

If anything, what I loved the most about my time overseas was to see a different relationship between the police and the local community.

The police in the London Metropolitan area don’t, let’s face it, have an awesome reputation either. They shot some kid dead without due process, didn’t they? But the fact was, they responded well. The London community trusts the police to a degree, and the police find that their work in enforcement is a lot easier.

Yeah, it is actually easier to obey the law when you know that the police are on our side. It stops being a matter of lawbreaking being something you do to “stick it up to the man” and more that lawbreaking becomes something that goes against your interest in the end.

Bad Attitude

It boils down in the end to our attitude towards the law. The law, imposed by an external force, is a burden. But the minute a society realizes, or is made to realize, that obeying the law, all the time is to their best interests, they do. This isn’t foolish optimism—the idea in itself is based on Skinnerian psychology. Rewards are better than punishment.

It’s something that not only our police fail to understand. The music industry here fails to understand that as well, with their campaign against media piracy. It is pointless to try the legalistic argument in Malaysia—no one trusts or necessarily obeys the law.

Who cares if it’s fake?

Who cares if the video is fake? The fact is, the video is seen as conforming to our view of what policemen do. You may have, no doubt, heard some stories. They don’t exactly protect and serve in those tales, do they?

The thought of cooperating to the police for your own good is alien to the mind of many Malaysians. What we do instead is cooperate because of fear of greater punishment.

What kind of incentive is that?

fütnotes

1 Or maybe not, if you hear rumors about how we’re supposedly the terrorist hub in the region. We might actually be, you know.

Anonymous Giant Sotong said...

Maybe it was cooler to be a cop during the Communist Insurgency, if you know what I mean.

As for terrorism: the way some people drive here, they could be training for suicide car bombings. Why can't they do it in Sepang?

Good weekend.

10:12 AM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Architeuthis: My grandfather was a cop. I thought he was awesome when I was a kid.

Hey, you have fun too this weekend!

10:19 AM  
Blogger sashi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous sashi said...

I remember an uncle who was a cop when I was a kid. Smelled of cigarettes and liquor, and was scary as hell. A good man, but still... scary. I wouldn't even dare blink when I was around him for fear of... something bad happening to me.

If all cops were like him, we might have fewer people breaking laws. But that's just wishful thinking plus nostalgia on my part, of course.

11:29 AM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

sashi: You think so? I don't. Scaring works when you're kids; the thing is, people grow out of being scared.

So you get a sort of arms race, and the thing is, the cops are outnumbered.

You'd think the best thing to do is get the people on your side, you know? The police should at least be working together or something with the community, not scaring it to submission.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous vokoyo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:07 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

vokoyo: Oh noes! Someone With A Grudge And No Fucking Blog To Express It!

It would appear that you have an agenda. Sadly, you don't seem to have a blog to broadcast your “I'm Sick Of This No-Integrity Administration” message!

Comment deleted because you're out of topic. Also, you were tl;dr.

Don't like it? Start your own blog. Freedom of Speech doesn't mean Freedom of Being Listened to, though, so feel free to be fucking ignored!

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote
"The thought of cooperating to the police for your own good is alien to the mind of many Malaysians. What we do instead is cooperate because of fear of greater punishment."

Isnt this quote similar to those preaching about hellfire if you do not believe in the almigthty.

5:40 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Anonymous: You know, I didn't exactly get how my and your sentences are comparable, and why you brought it up.

One could argue that being good has two motivations—one to avoid hellfire, the other to be good in itself. Which is inherently more noble?

7:06 PM  
Blogger johnleemk said...

I'd just like to say right on, Tariq. We need more Malays(ians) like you.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

hey you should be a columnist!

2:15 PM  

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