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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London riots

I have been rather sarcastically asked on Twitter such questions as, “you support freedom of assembly, you want Malaysians to riot like the Londoners?”. Another twitterati asked me, “Art, you support the riots in London?”.

Frankly, I am amused to my bone by such questions.

I am amused because the attempts at justifying the banning of public rallies in Malaysia by referring to the riotous behaviour of some others displays a certain degree of shallowness, if not lack of intelligence.

We all have freedom as human beings. There is no restriction on what we eat, for example. But eating without limitations, both in term of quantity and quality of the food, could harm our health. Do the majority of us eat until we harm ourselves? Granted, there are people who eat without a thought to their calorie intake; fat contents and the attendant harmful effects of the food. The point is there are also people who exercise their freedom to eat in a responsible manner.

So, may I ask, shall the State pass laws to restrict our freedom to eat just because some people eat until they die?

Think about it. Some people are simply yobs and thugs. These people did not rally or attend a demonstration as an exercise of their freedom to assemble. They are not pursuing any valid or legitimate cause. They are just there to create trouble. Some are just there to loot. Some to look for a victim to rape. That’s the difference.

If anybody fails to see the difference, then I dare say he or she is blinkered and is all too eager to justify the unjustifiable by drawing a misconceived comparison.

The Tottenham riot apparently started from several peaceful rallies. Those rallies took place because the people wanted to show their anger against the police who had allegedly shot a guy by the name of Mark Duggan in a mini-cab. The police said he was a gangster and he shot at the police when he was stopped. So the police shot him dead.

The people got angry with the police and they started a peaceful rally.

We can surely learn a thing or two from this story.

Firstly, in modern democracies, police killings are frowned upon by the society. In the US for example, there is an automatic inquiry into every case of discharge of arm or killing by the police. This is different from the inquest.

The function of the inquest is to determine how the deceased died. It makes findings of facts but not of guilt or the lack of it.

The inquiry however requires the officer to justify his or her shooting or killing.

Compare that to Malaysia. Our police kills even those who drive without license! Those who panic upon seeing a road block and tried to evade it are also shot at sometimes. Once in a while, we would have news of the police shooting dead not one, but four or five people who are suspected rapists, robbers or gang members. In other cases our police would storm into houses and shoot even a pregnant lady. Those who drive off despite being asked to stop would be shot at without hesitation and any regard for the safety of the passengers in the vehicle. Normal and healthy people die in police custody. There was one who died frothing in his mouth.

I wouldn’t say that our police acts with impunity. But the fact is as members of the public, we do not have a clue whether all these shootings and killings could firstly, be avoided and secondly, are necessary. We do not even know whether there were several other options available to the police to apprehend all these suspected bad people and whether the police has availed themselves of all those options before opening fire and kill that person.

In the UK, obviously the public take these matters seriously. One guy is shot and it caused a riot!

How about here? Well, before the age if the internet, we wouldn’t even know about the killings. The newspaper and TV3 or RTM would set out the news with pictures of parangs and old pistols allegedly recovered from the deceased.

Thanks to the internet, nowadays we become more and more aware. The Aminul Rasyid killing is a case in point. He was only 14. His only offences were probably driving without a license; he did not stop after being ordered to do so and driving fast and recklessly while fleeing the police. He was killed!

In the UK, the whole government could have gone down if that had happened there. Over here, we just made noise. The police officer would be charged for some offences. Then we forget.

That proves something. We Malaysians are a peaceful lot. We are so tranquil that a foreigner would be hard press to know whether we are sleeping or in a coma or just plain dead. We are so peaceful we probably make Gandhi looked aggressive. But that is us. We don’t go out rioting for things like police killing. I don’t think we would go on a riot for anything, really.

When Aminul Rasyid and Kugan were killed, did anyone – anyone at all, including their parents – run amok? No. Because we are a peaceful people.

With that kind of culture, could any reasonable person, such as the IGP or Home Minister conclude that any assembly of the people of Malaysia could turn into a riot?

Why then harass people assembling in some car parks holding some candles to support whatever cause or causes which they believe in? What is there in a rally to ask for something to which they are legally entitled?

The second point to note is this. The London riots do not exemplify the danger of freedom to assembly. It rather exemplifies the abject failure of their police force to control the crowd and to “read” the general feelings of anger permeating the air. That is their failure.

I have said it before and I will say it again. In a rally or peaceful assembly, the bounden duty of the police force is to ensure a peaceful, safe and orderly assembly. That is their duty. This, obviously, they failed to do in London.

Now, if the police are failures, would we punish the people by restricting their constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble?

If so, since our police has totally failed to arrest the acid splasher – who has, it seems, disappeared from everybody’s radar and is probably now laughing at all of us – shall we also ban everybody from walking on the streets in Bangsar and Brickfields?

You tell me.

30 comments:

Rudy K said...

The abhorrent apathy, the lack of understanding of circumstances and the illogical symmetries drawn to link totally opposite events is even MORE upsetting. It helps perpetuate an even bigger and deplorable disease that afflicts society, everywhere. And it continues to spread, chronic, like a cancer. The question really is: when will people truly wake up from their slumber?

Anonymous said...

Yes,In London case, it's riot situation where looting and destroying properties occurred whereas the peaceful rally in KL recently dont fit the bill

Anonymous said...

Arty , is that Doomer who blogs on "Outside the Kotek" one of the idiots who asked you the moronic quetion whether you support the riots in London ?

In his latest post , the imbecile compares the London riots with the Bersih 2 march; what a moron.

mitchell said...

Rudy K ends his entry with a scary thought provoking question: "when will people truly wake up from their slumber?"
Truly when and who??....are they the "silent majority" who choose to remain tidak apa lah... I shudder at the thought..our Malaysia is indeed moving not towards 2020 as a developed country but as a doomed state..
God Bless

BOGO said...

obviously we expected some to draw the comparison between BERSIH and the London Riots.. it's the usual "i told you so" attitude laa.. while they are quick to point at the riot .. why can't they do the same with hundreds of peaceful rallies that went on in London in the past and conclude that BERSIH and its likes are peaceful and therefore good to go...

mpn kadaram said...

Dear Art, the London rioting and the peaceful demonstration in Malaysia of the Bersih Rally can be equated.As you have rightly pointed we are a very docile people,not going to the street rioting for petty things. The quest of the people for change and reform cannot be mistaken as an act of anarchy. Hopefully your well written article will enlighten all apologist who are against street demonstrations.

IHSAN KHAIRIR said...

"These people did not rally or attend a demonstration as an exercise of their freedom to assemble. They are pursuing any valid and legal cause. They are just there to create trouble."

I think you meant "They are NOT pursuing any valid and legal cause"

Anonymous said...

THis is actually a violent pent-up expression by the have-not, and the troubled spots happened in black areas.

Well, the problem is,these youths have been suckled by the Welfare State for generation and lost its resourcefulness to nation-building. Furthermore, unemployment is high for certain ethnic groups

art harun said...

Thanking En Hissan for the correction. I am obliged.

Tiger said...

Either those guys are real morons or they pretend to be stupid.
Bersih was totally different.
In London, they are ransacking stores etc!
Bersih people wanted to meet the King, in the most peaceful manner.

Anonymous said...

This is where i find bersih fans so simple and naive.
You keep saying bersih was peaceful and good. Can bersih really account for every1 attending? Out of the 50,000 (as the organisers claimed), there won't be hotheads, yobs etc hell-bent on making trouble?
So now we will never know, will we? Cause the police was out there in full force.
If they weren't? What then?

Path

Rick said...

This is to reply to Path who point out a common question from some people. In my humble opinion, Yes, no one could guarantee there is no hotheads in the Bersih 2.0 rally prior to that event. And that is why to have police there to maintain the order is important. However, our police was there to splash chemical water and tear gas when a peaceful rally was taking place. I think this makes a big different. Do you stop your kid from eating KFC just because you are not sure if he/she will over eat? By the way, I am no Bersih fans but I am definitely a fan to fair and just election.

Unknown said...

Its not about malaysian is peace..perhaps we have no guts and balls that is. we will see how long we can tahan from bullying by government one fine day the balloon gonna burst..Im waiting for those days to come. peace

komando said...

THERE IS ALWAYS 2 SIDES TO A STORY, THEY SAY:
1. the truth
2. a big fat lie
SO LET US ALL see and hear from the floor what they think!

Yes, if amongst the 50K crowd were a few thugs and crooks, they could have been "planted" as well, how are we to say 100% full proof situation. We aren't GOD!

Anonymous said...

First, lets get this fact right. Malaysians are not really peaceful but a better explanation is TIMID - after all with ISA, EO and the corrupted judiciary and police force, Malaysians are generally scared out of their sh*t.

The Bersih march cannot be compared to the riot in London. There was a peaceful march but some criminal gangs uses that as an excuse to riot as can be seen by the grabbing of goods from high value shops.

In Malaysia, Police has a lot to answer for their action and the Rakyat gets the raw deal of being suppressed and denied of basic human right and dignity.

I still prefer UK to Malaysia - that's the bottom line.

Peace,

Writing_from_London

Weween said...

"It rather exemplifies the abject failure of their police force to control the crowd and to “read” the general feelings of anger permeating the air. That is their failure"

U said it - FAILURE OF POLICE TO ACT.

A day before the rally, DSAI made international headline saying Malaysia is heading towards revolutionary uprising to topple corrupt government (and so he said).

The initial agenda to walk for a free and fair election was tarnished that very second. DSAI had instigated the idea for an "uprising" instead. So if you were THE GOVERNMENT, what would u have done?

We both know the riots going on now is NO LONGER about Mark Duggan. And UK police failure to control the mob on the pretext of its "freedom to assembly and human rights" at the expense of disrupting public's life, is that even correct?

These people whose shops were broken into, who witnessed their car being burnt - are the REAL VICTIMS in the situation.

So, was it wrong for the police/Gov to prevent what COULD have happened during Bersih then? Tip toeing on a very fragile sentiment Malaysia is undergoing now, Can u give an assurance all the 50,000 people will walk peacefully?

Anonymous said...

The UK police are worlds apart from the Malaysian police force! What is happening in UK is not the ability of the UK police to control the crowd. What is happening in UK is pure outright rioting, looting, arson and destruction of public property by children and youths hooligans. What is happening in UK is now beyond normal crowd control but putting down a riot.

Rick said...

Weween, I am sure you are not there during the Bersih 2.0 rally. You can not equate a peaceful rally versus a riot and assume that every rally will lead to riot. According to your logic, we shall close our eyes on all the un-just and un-fair, surrender our right to call for a fair electoral system so our every vote really count. I am not sure if we carry on like this and by the time it hits you, who else is there to stand out for you. Do you know why we are there during that day? We are just tired of being used by the government saying we are supporting whatever they throw to us since we never say a thing.

I am not there to rob people's shop or burn people's vehicle. Do you really think the taste of chemical water and tear gas is nice?

I will not blame you if you choose to stay silence and support whatever the current government given you, but please do not label all of us who stand out during the Bersih 2.0 as rebellion. I am not supporter of any politicians and I just want to have my vote count in a fair election. I hope that is not so much of a request to you.

I can promise you, if any one ever try to rob or burn something on that day, I will be among the first one to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Malaysians are not peaceful. Malaysians just don't care. It is not Malaysia BOLEH! is it Malaysia TIDAK APA! Malaysians are so apathetic to the point where there is no difference whether a Malaysian is alive or dead! shame on us!

Xuan said...

I'm shocked by Weween's comment: "So, was it wrong for the police/Gov to prevent what COULD have happened during Bersih then? Tip toeing on a very fragile sentiment Malaysia is undergoing now, Can u give an assurance all the 50,000 people will walk peacefully?"

Of course police should be there- did anyone say they shouldn't?- because if things went wrong from the crowd, they can control the situation.

In London, things went wrong yet UK police force didn't manage to control. So that's the failure of police to act.

How could you compare that to Malaysian police?! Shocking! If the UK police force present at peaceful rallies have to start giving tear gas treatment at every single one of it, like Malaysian police force did for no reason, they will be very busy people!

By the way, Art, there is no proof that Mark Duggan shot the police officer first. IPCC confirmed this today. Which is also the reason of the peaceful demonstration in Tottenham in the first place.

Donplaypuks® said...

There is an immediate tendency for UMNO supporters and bloggers to spin what's happened in London to justify the wayward behaviour of PDRM sometimes.

But they should note the British Bobby did not pull out tear gas launchers and water cannons and use them. They exercised admirable restraint in the face of deliberate criminality and looting.

Our boys on the other hand unconstitutionally started arresting our fellow citizens for wearin yellow t-shirts and were the primary cause of violence in Bersih 2011. More than that, they concocted stories about "Communists waging war against the King."!!?? Remember how our former IGP accused and lied about Hindraf's links to Tamil Tiger Terrorists?

The difference between these rogue elements in our PDRM and the London Booby is as chalk to cheese!

dpp
we are all of 1 Race, the Human Race

Anonymous said...

The riots in UK were caused by arsonists, anarchists and thieves, completely different from the BERSIH rally participants who were seeking electoral reform. Anyone trying to draw similarities is being stupid. Police should take action against rioters, but not conscience protestors.

Anonymous said...

The problem is this one little law that the Malaysian government holds tighter than the Quran, and it's called ISA. The second you question the police and/or goevrnment, they play the ISA card. Malaysians is not peaceful or stupid or ignorant, Malaysians are just afraid that they too will land in ISA detention facilities, once in there, you'll never know if you'll come out alive.

Cadraver said...

Funny how everyone is comparing KL's rally to London. Perhaps you ought to make a comparison between Bersih and what's going on in Syria, where the army is literally gunning down hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators.

Mack The Finger said...

Malaysians are a peaceful lot, so we have quite a small range of..say peace-violent meter? I mean even if we gone ape crazy on a riot, to these englishman it will look like child's play only
..just my two cents

Crankster said...

I think we're being a bit too liberal with the word 'peace'. In the Malaysian context, I think peaceful could be substituted with the words, 'apathetic', and possibly 'timid' as well.

And why not? The education system does not teach students to speak out and stand up for themselves. They are taught that they should listen to authority and generations of Malaysians still haven't grown up yet.

In response to one other comment, if a protest turns violent, that is when arrests should be made - without violence and brutality on the part of police.

This really isn't rocket science.

Anonymous said...

The rioters and looters in London are generally the poorer end of the society who had taken advantage of the anger and unrest to get what they cannot otherwise have. If Malaysians are shoved to a point where the poor are poor enough to live among the well to do, watching the rich eat their food and wear their clothes, most probably they would be exactly like those rioters in London. With the lost of respect and guilt in them to even think of what is right and what is wrong. Stolen goods are and will always be stolen goods.Would I equate the London riots with Bersih? No. Would I have the fear that Bersih can turn into the London Riots? with racial and religious tension at foot, and people getting terribly sensitive during these times, YES.. This may not be agreeable with all, but that is what I say.

Anonymous said...

One is only afraid to lose when one has something to lose. We Malaysians are one whiny society, we complain a lot. I see that there is a lot of frustration and anger in the society. Why don't we just look on the brighter side of things and stop complaining all the time. Are we really that suppress? When I grew up in the sixties, Malays have only bicycles and they were one happy lot, now they complain in their Mercedes Benz. The get their scholarships without complaining, they even buy houses at 15% less than the non malays. And still they complain. Thats what I called bersyukur. An the non malays are one frustrated lot, they feel they are being left out. Man, there is only 2 malay in the top 20 richest in Malaysia. Strange statistics I find for someone being left behind. You guys are an amazing lot.

Anonymous said...

i am just a normal woman and i might be 'the silent majority' that represent hundreds thousands out there. i read some of the comments and blogs by art and mm and some others recently..
what amaze me most is some of us well the new generation yeah this so called new genration really has forgotten that even though we are in this new tech world there are others out there millions more who doesnt have the prvlge as us to reach for you guys..
my mum my grandma my so called sedara mara kat kampung and i am sure those who dont even bother to read newspaper ni kan lagi nak baca blog2 mcm ni.. it is so hurtful to call us the silent majority that havent wake up and in deep slumber..
this so call new generation you totally forget those mcm saya..
who rather think of what to put on the table next for my family and hoping that God grace us wth peace and harmony..hoping that this so call new generation and all involved in the maintaining the country to finally work togthr in upholding the country to where it should belongs..
i do occasionally brws through the internet but what about my mum..my aunts..my neighbours kat kampung..who care for their opinions... do you all reach out to them..
our country is not just based in kl..
its the whole country that makes our country..
it does make me cry sometimes when i go to a lot of places in kl.. and to read all of your comments and posts because did you all care about us..the normal..silent majority that represent our country..i applauded your cause of writing.. i wish i could have done better to support you but the truth is 'we' struggle with our life.. and i know 'we' are here . its just that nobody really care bout 'us'. so the easiest way for us is just go for those who connect with us without even realising what is their intention

Anonymous said...

Art..... I have been reading your blogs n articles. And I enjoy your ability to articulate issues with courage!