*This article was originally published 06/04/2015
[UPDATE 23/02/2018]: After a five-year battle, activist Adam Adli has been acquitted by the court of a sedition charge. He had been charged for allegedly giving a seditious speech at a public rally in 2013. Read on to learn more about his case and his treatment by the police after arrest.
Ok, ok we know what you’re thinking… the photo up there of Adam Adli getting arrested by the police is pretty darn scary.
With the recent arrests PDRM has been making, especially the big harvest in March, the police are not a favourite with the public right now.
There’s the #pecatIGP campaign too, organised by #KitaLawan near the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters. Then there’s the Anak Malaysia Anti Demokrasi video threatening to blow up IGP’s car. They are saying that IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar is making PDRM look bad.
But after our interview with Eric Paulsen, who revealed that the cops weren’t as bad as they thought (in fact very nice), we decided to look into this and see if the perception needs to be shattered…
Incident in 15 words or less: Arrested under for sedition over a tweet criticising the judiciary after Anwar’s sodomy verdict.
“Physically, normal as others, but when they detained me, I had to give more statements. One about the tweets to Bukit Aman, one about the cartoons to the Ibu Pejabat Polis Kontinjen Kuala Lumpur, and also an intelligence statement to Bukit Aman.”
“Yesterday [3 April] I wasn’t taken to the lokap. They only investigated me because I objected the case from the beginning. I said, ‘I didn’t post it’. My Facebook profile is public, people can post anything there. I only do cartoons. That was a graphic. The police monitor my Facebook closely…
There was no physical abuse, but you know la the condition of lokap. They put you in the same cell with other criminals, the drug addicts, murderers…
The police were not nasty. They classify my case as high profile, so they’re a bit more careful on how they handle. Since the Reformasi time, when people made police report against the police, they’ve changed.”
2. Rafizi Ramli
Incident in 15 words or less: Went to police station to report against 1MDB, got arrested for #KitaLawan rally.
“You see, there is a difference between the top rank [police] and the rank and file. The top officers view opposition as enemies so they are hostile.
The lower rank policemen are not like that. They relate to prices, GST, they hate wastage and they hate the politics. These policemen will give you the due respect, in their own way, they’ll show you silent support in the little things they do. They were nice and friendly, so I thought it was quite OK.
At the same time, rules are rules. If they don’t obey orders, they’ll get penalised. Like during the rally, Tian Chua waved at some of the policemen. The top rank penalised them because it was seen as being too lenient.
I didn’t think it was a waste of 3 days. I could even speak to the police about issues in Malaysia, so the 3 days were very productive.
We want people to know, especially the younger generation, don’t fear lokap. I went with my head held high because I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I go in with that attitude, so if you go in with that attitude and you’ve done nothing wrong, you don’t have to fear lokap.”
3. Ho Kay Tat
Incident in 15 words or less: Arrested along with Jahabar Sadiq for an article saying Conference of Rulers rejected hudud.
“The police were very polite and courteous, occasionally even apologetic, especially when they had to handcuff us when we were moved around in the station. I have no complaints about how they went about doing their job. We cooperated fully, so maybe that was why there were no problems.
After telling us we will be arrested, the actual process took some time from taking down our details, finger printing and photo taking.
We changed into lock up clothes. The cell we were in was spartan and fairly clean. No bed though. 3 meals a day were served. It’s a cell in a police station, so we can’t expect the comforts of home.
I would not recommend it to anyone, but since it happened to me, it was an experience I can share one day with my grandchildren!”
4. Mandeep Singh
Incident in 15 words or less: Detained with Adam Adli after holding a silent protest in front of Sogo on 14 March.
“We [Mandeep and Adam] were taken straight to Jinjang. The police were cool. They didn’t lock us up immediately. We filled some forms, they bought us dinner – teh o’ ais, Nescafe ais… They even lent us their handphones and allowed us 1 call each so I called my family.
When Maria [Maria Chin, chair of Bersih] came, the police got a bit restless la. They took us to the lokap sementara with all the Banglas and drug addicts. I had to remove all my rings, etc., then they gave us the purple uniform, and they took away our shoes, so we were barefoot.
After that, they moved us into a cell, just two of us [with Adam], there I counted the cell bars – there are 40 bars. We changed cells many times, then when Teo Kok Seong joined us, they moved us into a bigger cell – I called it the Deluxe Room. Every day we had nothing to do….I looked at Adam’s face, Adam looked at my face…play rubber band….
Actually, the police were very good in the lokap. They supported us. Every time they handcuffed us they would say, ‘sorry we have to do this’. Their superior told them, don’t treat them like criminals because they are not criminals. They weren’t nasty… well, the nasty part was keeping us for 4 days la. But Jinjang got no mosquitoes!”
5. Adam Adli
Incident in 15 words or less: Detained with Mandeep Singh after holding a silent protest in front of Sogo on 14 March.
“The police can be quite violent during arrest, but once they have got you, they will treat you quite fairly.
I remember one of the police said, ‘In here, we can’t treat you like a common criminal. That is for the court to determine. You are only a suspect. You’ve given your cooperation, we shall give you ours too.’
For them to be civil, we have to be civil as well. I believe in that value. They are as what we always knew – ‘menurut perintah’. Can’t blame them entirely.”
6. Susan Loone
“On 4 September, I became an ‘orang kena tangkap’, code-named OKT or loosely translated, ‘a detainee’. I was interrogated for 9 hours on a news report I wrote, headlined: Exco man grilled for four hours, treated like a ‘criminal’.
During the 9 hours, I too was treated like a criminal, my phone, the machine with which I file my stories, was seized, my photograph and fingerprints were taken and a file on my life story was opened in my name.
The police who questioned me may not be aggressive, but they kept pressuring me to state my opinion about Phee Boon Poh, about why the voluntary unit was set up, etc. I didn’t want to and told them I will only answer stuff pertaining to facts of the story. The police threatened that I can only help myself or free myself if I answered those questions. Which I didn’t like at all.
After they took down everything, they refused to let me check what they wrote and kind of forced me to sign the statement. So they were not very kind.
Indeed every cloud has a silver lining. My detention, though brief, has put our profession and our struggles once again in the limelight.“
*For a more detailed account, read her story on Malaysiakini.
Those who buy you Nescafe and those who don’t let you check statement
So in every situation you have different kinds of police.
You have the police who buy you dinner like Mandeep and Adam had. You have the police who layan protesters like Rafizi met, and the police who punish the ones who layan the protesters.
And at the opposite end, you’ve got police who pressure you to make a statement, then don’t let you check it, like in Susan’s case.
But what we learned from Rafizi is that contrary to popular belief that usually vilifies the police, many of the rank and file guys are just like you and me! They worry about prices, they worry about GST and they hate all the political drama. In his words, these guys – the rank and file policemen – are respectful, and they silently support you in their own small way.
Or if you happen to get arrested, pray you get a Deluxe Room in Jinjang… coz Jinjang no mosquitoes!! 😀