The riot that broke out in Kuala Terengganu during a ceramah session organised by the Coalition for Free and fair Election (BERSIH) last night begs for a few questions to be answered sensibly.
As a loyal and patriotic Malaysian (read: a patriot to the country.period!) who have just witnessed the nation's 'coming of age' at 50, I just will not allow myself to blindly believe what have thus far been reported in opposition blogs and alternative news websites.
Picking on succulent news bites, the citizen journalists who are mostly not witnesses to the melee were swift to embellish their reports based on 'spur of the moment' accounts of the incident. Beginning from some so-called eye witness accounts, the reports would take a life of its own through the ether and cyber space.
I am not taking sides as I am very much apolitical in my stand. However, given the gravity of the situation as well as the need to maintain public order, I would not blame the police for taking action.
Let us look back the few months of this year. Do we still remember the incessant reports that spoke of almost relentless escalation in violence, apathy and alleged non-action or by the authorities in fighting crime? Yes, our concerns supported by the reports brought forth through blogs and the mainstream media had prompted the authorities to come down seemingly hard on the under world. The blitz carried out by the police is on-goin without a let-up as yet.
In the midst of all these, can we ask ourselves whether we are quite pacified by the proactiveness of the law enforcers? Isn't it better than allowing our neighbourhoods to fall into the hands of gangsters?
Again, amidst all these many of us are quick to point fingers at the same law enforcers for carrying out their duties in trying to prevent an untoward occurrence, which incidentally did happen last night in Batu Burok, Kuala Terengganu. No, the police did not act without warning. The organisers were told to get a permit but they evidently had failed to heed this advice. They were told to hold their ceramah at Rusila, further down the road, and preferably within an enclosed area. This advice, too, went unheeded.
No, I just will not buy the suggestion that the police acted brutal to spark off the incident. No one in their right mind would want to do so under such circumstances as unnecessary aggression and violence will only be counter-productive in the light of all-out attempts by the police to get closer to the communities and project a more profesional image.
How else can they break up the gathering if all their calls and warnings were not heeded?Under such circumstances I believe the police would have excercised restraint that went beyond the necessary. And as for the shots that were fired, what would you do if you as a policeman are threatened and believe your life to be in danger? You may shoot into the air but there would be circumstances where this may not happen as required by procedures. It all depends on the situation.
Let us also look back at the fracas between the police and the pig farmers in Melaka recently. TV footage clearly showed the amount of restraint the police excercised eventhough they were physically resisted by the protesters, who even threatened to use petrol bombs, etc.
There must be something congenitally wrong with anyone of us who sees all these in a blinkered way.