Milk trader A. Ganapathy died allegedly as result of the beatings by the police personnel while in custody. As usual, the police have denied any wrong doing in the death of Ganapathy. His grieving and distraught mother wants justice for her son.
But justice in Malaysia is something not attainable under the present government that is highly protective of the police.
Revelations by Abdul Hamid
The recent revelations by the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador tales of political interference in the police force and indirectly why the present Minister of Home Affairs Hamzah Zainuddin is not fit for the job.
The only problem with the revelations of Hamid Bador is the fact he was a bit late in exposing the shoddy details of the police force. He should have resigned while in the position to expose the misdeeds of the politicians especially the backdoor minister Hamzah.
Perhaps he was too timid to have waited until his retirement to reveal the rotten things in the police force. This tells much of the former IGP who welcomed the institution of the IPCMC but later backtracked on it to save his skin.
Custodial deaths involving members of the working class is quite widespread among Malays and Indians. However of late, just not due to class factors, more and more Indians, essentially members of the working class, are becoming victims of custodial deaths in police stations and prisons.
The fact that more and more Indians are involved in these custodial deaths indicates that class might not be the sole criteria.
The fact that Indians are minority in the country and their weak political representation might reinforce ethnic animosity among the police and prisons officials especially those who are involved in the custody of remand prisoners.
Furthermore, there is a widespread belief reinforced by reports that Indians have the propensity to engage in gangsterism, fights and robberies. Their ill-treatment and to some extent torture in prisons are being motivated by predominantly Malay officers and men with a preconditioned notion that Indians under custody are all guilty and should be treated in the manner that they deserve.
I am not saying that Malays and Chinese are not involved in custodial deaths. Amongst the Malays, there have been number of custodial deaths.
The class dimension was certainly operative in their deaths.
The case of the 22 Indians detained in 2019 reveals their vulnerability in the eyes of officials with predetermined notion of their guilt. The minute Indians are detained on suspicion of their involvement in gangsterism or robbery, they are deemed guilty. That is even before the court trials could begin.
The 22 Indians were detained under the dreaded Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) in 2019 for their involvement in gangsterism related activities. In a press conference, organised by a church in Cheras, it was revealed that the detainees were beaten by the prison officials with plastic pipes, stick and broken chairs.
They were told to lie down before their private parts were pepper sprayed to the point they had difficulty urinating. The family members informed the press that some of them are contemplating suicide as the beatings and torture have become unbearable.
The detainees were brought to the Jelebu Prison from the Melaka detention centre after they were tested positive for Covid-19. The detainees, the ages ranging from 22 to 45 years old are being denied hospitalisation.
Prisons officials apparently said that there was a fight among the detainees so that a minimal force was applied to quell it.
Pastor Prince Jon of the King’s Tabernacle Church, Cheras who organised the press meet for the families had this to say. “Indians are being abused. They have not been taken care and mistreated in prisons. Even though we are minority, we are still Malaysians”.
It took a rather a rational person like Jon to say that the detention and suffering of the 22 speaks of blatant and extreme discrimination against Indians, a powerful minority in the country.
Of course, in the triumph of race and religion, the sacrifices of the Indian community has been forgotten or erased from the memory of those in power.
Some family members have lodged police reports.
Futility of police reports
But knowing the priorities of the Malaysian police force, these reports will be ignored.
They have done what they are supposed to do as law abiding citizens, but will the police seriously act on these reports?
Anyway, Indians being minority in the country and given the popular belief that have the inclinations to engage in unlawful activities, I doubt justice will be done for them and their families.
Toxicity of race and religion
It is not the police force per se. But rather the kind of leadership that the police force has.
If you have a person like Hamzah in charge of the police, then the poor, the marginalised and the powerless have no justice in this country.
Failure of PN government
More importantly, the PN government has miserably failed the Indian community.
Too much of race and religion is extremely toxic to the poor, the weak and the marginalised.
There is nothing for Indians to look forward in this country of theirs.