126. THE SQUATS OF SHAME
The recent story about the detainment of 2 unfortunate Singaporean ladies at the Johor Bahru customs last week came as a shock to many that such things still happen in 2011 and as a Malaysian myself, I am deeply embarassed and disgusted that the enforcement officers of my country have displayed an utter lack of professionalism in this matter.
While many have probably read the story and have had time to digest it, I would like to offer up my thoughts on the whole case from a ‘solutions’ point of view and of how the case could’ve been handled in a dignified and more professional manner.
Firstly, I believe the error lay in the officers not taking a step back and asking the right questions.
If these 2 ladies had allegedly entered Malaysia illegally without having their passports stamped, then the officers in charge should have
1. verified their passports with their Singapore counterparts to ensure that they were holding valid travel documents
2. checked their ‘Touch n Go’ toll cards which the women claimed they had scanned at the unmanned booth to see what time they had entered before they decided to U-turn back to immigration to get their passports stamped
3. find out where the joker that was supposed to be manning the booth was in the first place. Was he called away to the restroom and if he was why didn’t he call in a replacement or temporarily shut down his booth? Was he physically unable to continue with his duties and if so, again why wasn’t the necessary shut down procedures carried out? Was he slacking off somewhere else with his mates? To this, no one has an answer on when this was, if not, the most important question to ask because it was the reason why the ladies were confused in the first place and didn’t know what else to do.
4. ask the ladies why they didn’t go to another booth to get their passports stamped if they were confused or unsure about the checkpoint’s new biometric system.
These were and should be the first steps of protocol when detaining suspected illegal immigrants instead of them being put through unnecessary, shameful, barbaric, inhumane detention practises requiring the literal stripping of a person’s dignity.
Innocent until proven guilty remember?
Unfortunately, the officers at the JB Immigration chose to do otherwise, resulting in me thinking that this whole incident carries with it an even uglier truth; that this was purely a vengeful, anti-Chinese Singaporean, hate tactic akin to those old Klu Klux Klan lynching mobs of 1800s America.
I have no doubt that this was Malaysian Immigration’s very own lynch fest.
I apologise if this point is sensitive to some, but it does seem that way from the way the story has panned out.
Some things just don’t sit right with me, for example, how quick the officers were to conclude that these ladies were flouting the law and subsequently, how badly they were interrogated and punished. It sure feels like these officers just couldn’t wait to humiliate them.
I’m also disturbed by why these women had to be brought to a holding cell in the town of Pontian, which is an hour’s drive away from the main city, to be detained. Was it really necessary to do that given these ladies had proper travel documents to begin with?
So OK – even if these 2 were suspected of illegally entering Malaysia for dubious activities eg transporting drugs from Malaysia to Singapore, did the Malaysian immigration officials think their counterparts in Singapore weren’t alert anough to capture them on arrival at the border?
Surely not! That would be idiotically presumptious at best, given Singapore’s impressive track record in successful drug, cigarette and alcohol busting at the borders.
But I forget, these are dense Malaysian officials who believe they know it all, so yea, perhaps they did think that after all. 🙂
This also kinda brings me to my next question: How much authority does a uniformed officer have over a regular citizen in that space of time between when they are deemed innocent and later, proven guilty/not guilty here in Malaysia?
Helluva lot, I imagine, if this case is anything to go by and here’s where it gets as scary as a badly made Halloween candy – If such power is given to a uniformed officer to wield, how sure can we be that this person is objective and unbiased enough to do his/her job effectively without violating human rights?
Are these officers subject to stringent psychological tests and analyses? Are their backgrounds thoroughly checked to ensure that they are of stable upbringing and of sound mind? Do they come with any emotional baggage? Are they trained in an objective environment where their superiors also display outstanding or impressive work ethics and/or professional dignity?
In many developed countries perhapsthe answers to all those questions may be a ‘Yes’ but in good ole lawless Malaysia and other similar rogue nations, it is highly questionable.
We still can’t seem to be able to recruit people of reasonable intelligence and objectivity to be in our enforcement divisions because the jobs don’t pay and when the jobs don’t pay, corruption seeps in; a dirty practise Malaysians are aware of when it has to do with anything that comes with a ‘Kerajaan Malaysia’ (Government of Malaysia) label.
So now ‘Kerajaan Malaysia’ will have a lot of damage control to do in the next few weeks as this story gets tweeted and facebooked in Singapore and probably around the world but given the circumstances, that will probably be the least of their problems as the wheels of justice are set to go into full ‘suing’ motion by the victims of this horrible incident.
Then, my friends, we’ll see who’ll be wishing they did squats or a duck-walk of shame across the Causeway and back.
Good luck to these ladies and I hope they get the justice they deserve.