[This article was originally written in BM. Untuk membaca artikel dalam BM, klik kat sini!]
The Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) is one public institution that has been criticized lots and lots of times. After all, the police have gotten themselves into a number of controversies over the years, such as the recent cases of A. Kugan and N. Dharmendran, two detainees who died under unwarranted police brutality.
Earlier this year, Malaysians were reminded of another previous police fiasco when the High Court awarded the family of Aminulrasyid Amzah RM414,800 in damages. For context, in 2010 this 15 year old was shot dead by a police officer for refusing to pull over his car when ordered. The Inspector-General of Police (aka the highest ranking police officer) contributed to the drama when he refused to apologize after the court settlement, reasoning that the victim MIGHT have been a criminal… due to a parang found in the car.
HOWEVER, we shouldn’t allow these sentiments affect our view of the regular rank and file police. In fact, in a previous CILISOS article, we showed ugaiz that the police are humans beings just like us (they also care about GST, kay). What’s more, some of them have been bonafide heroes throughout Malaysia’s history – even earning epic nicknames rivaling characters from Hong Kong movies.
Well… CILISOS did some research and have come up with the names of 4 such police officers!
Note: The rank of each police officer in this list are the last rank they held at the time of retirement.
#1- Deputy Superintendent Bahadon Baharom aka “The Angel of Death” VS Kalimuthu
Imagine for a moment that you are a samseng roaming the streets of KL during the 90s. One night, you and your buddies gather at your usual mamak spot to share some stories. One of them tells ugaiz about how his gangster boss just got a pretty amoi mistress, another brags about how much money he made just by selling drugs. Suddenly, one of them asks the group,”You all got hear about the Angel of Death ah?”. None of you have.
Being nice enough, he explains that the Angel of Death is this police officer rumored to have survived every shootout with criminals. Also, whenever he is present for a police operation, no one has ever managed to escape from him.
At the mention of this, your heart sinks. It’s as though a death sentence has been passed on your head. Still, Bahadon Baharom’s enemy wasn’t some petty criminal either- he was extremely dangerous.
Also, known as Bentong Kali, P. Kalimuthu was super-notorious for multiple cases of murder (this blog puts his body count at 16), drug smuggling, extortion as well as being involved with Geng 04, a Chinese triad gang. He was even said to be the inspiration for Rajinikanth’s character in Kabali! Kalimuthu was so good at his profession that a reward of RM 100,000 was offered to anyone who had info on his location.
Final Showdown: One way or another, death came knocking on Kalimuthu’s door when a Pasukan Gerakan Khas team launched an attack on his hideout, killing him and his accomplices.
On the flipside, the “Angel of Death” proved that he too had a human side when dealing with his subordinates. His great interpersonal skills resulted in the successful integration of even problematic police into his division. For this, Bahadon was greatly admired by the police force.
#2- Assistant Commissioner S. Kulasingam aka “The Daredevil” VS Botak Chin
This badass cop clamped down on the activities of 25 Chinese triads and was responsible for the capture of Kepong Chai, a rapist who loved to disfigure his victims’ faces. For outstanding bravery and efficiency demonstrated during his crackdown on a group of goldsmith robbers, S. Kulasingam was awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani, M’sia’s second highest award for bravery.
Among his friends, Kula was perceived as a ‘daredevil’ of sorts. This was because fear wasn’t something that registered on Kula’s mind whenever he went after criminals. Moreover, he became so engrossed in his crime busting profession to the point where death threats started coming in, which might explain why he didn’t get married.
“Kula’s a legend in the Crime Investigation Department. He was modest yet highly determined. No one could question his commitment and dedication to the police force.”- Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee, Federal CID Director as quoted from Bernama. (Quote translated from BM)
If Kula was like a superhero, then the supervillain had to be Botak Chin, the legendary Chinese gangsta! Fun Fact: Botak was actually an acronym which stood for Bantu Orang Tak Ada Kerja (Helping those without a job).
Back in the 1970s, Botak Chin was that one criminal whom the police just loved to avoid. He and his gang committed robberies after robberies, amassing a loot of nearly RM 1mil.
Kula though, saw things differently and continuously made plans to capture him. In the end, the fight between both men got so personal till Botak Chin plotted to kill Kula in an ambush.
Final showdown?? : Botak Chin’s opportunity came when a couple of his henchmen tailing Kula shot him when he stopped his car at the traffic light. Despite one bullet hitting his ribs and then going thru his lungs, Kula survived… and drove himself to the Cheras police station. WALAO EH!
If you thought that was already insane, five months later Kula got shot again…this time by robbers in Paramount Garden, PJ. They even poured acid on his chest and legs! Ouch! Spoiler alert: HE SURVIVED.
Eventually, Botak Chin was nabbed by the police in 1976 and was hanged at Pudu Jail in 1981.
“Aspiring policemen used Kula’s dedication and achievements as a yard stick in their own careers. He is indeed a good example of what it takes to be a great policeman.”- Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee, Federal CID director, as quoted by Bernama. (Quote translated from BM)
#3- Tan Sri Commissioner of Police Mohd Zaman Khan aka “The Gentlemen” VS Karpal Singh???! 😯
This guy is probably one of the most prolific police officer to have served in the force. Originally intending to become a teacher, his friend persuaded him to apply for the police instead.
When we got there (to apply for the police), a very nice OCPD, Tan Bian Guan, got a shock when he saw the results of my Form 6 exam. He said: ‘Why are you so stupid? I’ve been here for 15 years and I’m still in the same position. You had better go to university.’ But we got the job anyway.”-Tan Sri Zaman Khan as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.
Soon, he quickly rose through the ranks, taking on various posts such as Petaling Jaya OCPD (Officer in Charge of Police Department), Selangor CID chief, CPO (Chief Police Officer) of a number of states before retiring as the Director-General of the Prisons Department.
Despite not being in the field that often, he handled police operations against Botak Chin and Bentong Kali. Once, he and his men got the drop on Botak Chin and his accomplice while they were busy extorting a shop owner. Chin, quick to sense the police, escaped immediately. His accomplice however, decided to hide inside.
“I was opening a drawer when the accomplice came out from hiding and pointed a gun at me. My men shot him and he fell just beside me. I asked my men why they shot him. They told me he was going to shoot me so they had no choice.”- Tan Sri Zaman Khan as quoted by the Malay Mail.
Being a gentlemen, he did not believe in intentionally killing criminals, even if they were as bad as Botak Chin or Bentong Kali.
Incoming showdown: While some of ugaiz might not know this, Karpal Singh actually did break the law when he attended a Penang State Assembly meeting in 1981 despite being suspended (arguably for political reasons) by the State Speaker. After numerous policemen tried in vain to escort him out, they finally called on Zaman Khan’s chivalrous reputation. Amazingly, he managed to escort the late Karpal Singh out of the Penang State Assembly.
However, once they were outside, Zaman placed Karpal’s briefcase on a table but it fell off. “Zaman you threw my bag…pick up my bag,” Karpal daringly ordered. To his surprise, Zaman actually obeyed Karpal and picked up the briefcase!
“‘I didn’t want any more quarreling. It was quite an experience. Karpal never went down without a fight for what he believed in. Some liked him, some didn’t. But everyone respected him,’ said Zaman, who described the late Karpal as a nice person outside the courtroom.”- The Star Online.
#4- Datuk Superintendent Paul Kiong aka “The Infiltrator” VS Chin Fong and the communists
Among the ranks of the Special Branch, Paul Kiong’s exploits can considered as legendary. He spent the years between 1976 and 1986 infiltrating the communist ranks in the jungles of Perak. During this long-term undercover assignment, he managed to capture 43 insurgents and for that he earned the country’s highest award for bravery, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa medal in 1983 along with Perak’s highest medal of valor, the Pingat Keberanian Handal in 1988.
Yet, just like how superheroes need their sidekicks, Paul Kiong had a close one named Chin Fong. However, they didn’t start out as buddies…
Incoming showdown: Chin Fong started out as a communist sympathizer, providing water and food to the insurgents, before rising through the ranks to lead the Communist Ninth Armed Forces. Chin’s position among the communist ranks caught the attention of Paul who began to relentlessly pursuit him. After a hundred confrontations or so, Chin realized that he was fighting a lost battle which lead to him surrendering in 1981.
“(Chin) said he was utterly surprised by the treatment he received from (Paul) Kiong and his men, adding that they were treated decently. Following his surrender, Chin was persuaded by Kiong to cooperate with the police, which he did for the next five years.”- New Straits Times.
By undertaking these infiltration missions, Paul knew he wasn’t just risking his life but also the welfare of his family. His wife, understanding this well, wouldn’t dare ask her husband when he was coming back, or whether he was coming back at all.
Also, Paul never allowed the matter of his own ethnicity to interfere with duty. Despite being a Chinese just like many of the communists, he had no qualms with perceiving them as the enemies.
“Even though I’m Chinese, I will not forgive the cruelty of the PKM (Communist Party of Malaysia). The wounds on my body may heal and become scars but the pain in my heart and the sadness brought about by the PKM’s actions have yet to heal even now.”-Paul Kiong as quoted by Utusan. (Quote translated from BM)
Were those the glory days of the Malaysian police?
Let’s face it, the PDRM isn’t perfect. On one hand, there are law abiding cops trying to make our country safer. Conversely, there are those who would rather engage in illegal activities, further tarnishing the image of the police force. But actually, the same could be said of many police forces in many countries.
Every country needs a police force, and few are without their own fair share of issues. But at least the cops aren’t just monitoring Twitter. They’re also stopping the ISIS militants in Malaysia and containing unruly red-shirted protesters.
But there’s a certain legendary folklore appeal to the heroes of old, and perhaps that’s what’s missing. Perhaps instead of headlines that talk about the crimes they busted, perhaps media outlets could also look at the men that busted them – your S. Kulasingams, Zaman Khans, and Paul Kiongs.
Perhaps PDRM could consider promoting more of their exemplary personnel on the media?
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