When asked to comment on claims that the police had used excessive force in the November 8 shooting in Klang where five suspected robbers were killed, Inspector-General of Police ( IGP ) Tan Sri Musa Hassan said yesterday that those who questioned police action in shooting suspects should consider whether they wanted to support those who upheld the law or the criminals.
“The duty of the police is to protect the people. We do not protect criminals,” Musa said.
He further said the police did not act indiscriminately but considered public order and shot criminals as the last resort.
When police conduct in past shoot outs was questioned , the usual reply was that all quarters must not politicise the issue.
On the recent Klang shoot out with Police which caused 5 deaths, Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin had , besides refuting allegations by certain quarters that police had used indiscriminate force, claimed that nobody raises a hue and cry when police officers are killed or wounded in the line of duty."When no one appears to care, the implicit message is that the lives of police officers are expendable", he said.
It appears that the police's reactions against allegations on shoot out deaths are getting from bad to worse.
IGP's yesterday's reaction has now been equated by the people to be similar to the " either you are with us or with the terrorists " approach adopted by former US President Bush.
It was on September 20, 2001 at a joint session of Congress that Bush made his infamous declaration towards other nations, who were being recruited into his “war on terror”: “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
Surely IGP himself will not agree with such approach declared by Bush. As such, he himself must not defend the shoot out by asking people to consider whether they want to support the police or the criminals.
IGP must understand that when police conduct is questioned, it does not mean that the questioners do not support the police or do not care about their lives. It is also absurd if any police officer takes the line that the questioners are supporting violent criminals.
We accept that the police have the fundamental right to self defence. But public allegation that there could be indiscriminate use of force must not be brushed aside or replied with emotional and ridiculous defence .
The police must particularly take note of the claim made by R. Rampathy, father of one of the five Indians killed in the Klang shoot out with police.
R. Rampathy had publicly disputed police claims that his son was a criminal.He even claimed that his son did not have a police report, had never been arrested or even set foot in a police station.
Emotional response from the police will not help to satisfactorily answer public allegation or stop eroding confidence in the police force.
IGP should not fear a public inquiry . In fact, the right course of action for him is to personally call on the government to conduct an open and independent inquiry into the November 8 Klang shoot out .