Call to vigilantism ill advised and dangerous
As a concerned rakyat, I read your recent statement encouraging martial arts practitioners in the country to be more actively involved in fighting crime in their localities with grave consternation. You have argued that pugilists have an advantage over other “untrained” members of public because apparently we “have had special trainings in armed/unarmed combat”.
While this may be true, the picture that you are painting of martial arts exponents is not entirely accurate. As someone who received education pertaining to the criminal justice system and policing, and trained in a variety of hand-to-hand combat, I must question the wisdom behind your words.
It is fairly obvious to whoever is following and reading the local news that you seemed to be promoting “vigilante justice”. I must point out that it is terribly outrageous that the minister of information, communications and culture himself would actually forward a suggestion so ill advised and dangerous such as this.
Yes, I am aware of the goings-on in Malaysia — the recent spike in crime, the spate of robbery spree across Klang Valley, which included one attempted abduction that have left many people, particularly women, reasonably nervous and anxious about their safety.
I understand what you meant about maintaining peace and order in the country is not the sole responsibility of the authorities and that all Malaysians must do their bit to fight crime. As a matter of fact, I have had the honour and privilege of interning with our esteemed Polis DiRaja Malaysia, particularly the Bukit Aman Crime Scene Unit, and I know and understand that the role and responsibility they play in our country are not light.
However, the message that you are sending across is very dangerous, whether or not you are aware of it.
Our country has a system of law and order that we all must abide, maintain and respect. There are procedures and there are protocols. There is a reason why we have courts of law.
Our police have the responsibility to serve to protect and serve the people. The forensic science applied in the field serves to determine the integrity of the evidence retrieved from the scene of crime, which may affect the outcome of a fair trial.
What differentiates the police from civilians is that the police have had specialised training. The police have been taught to know how to use their power, know their jurisdiction and the law. Most importantly, they are trained to know how to apply necessary force.
This is why vigilantism is not a part of this system because vigilantism is not justice. Vigilantism should never be confused with justice because its legitimacy is questionable and does not call for a fair appraisal of evidence that may be involved.
Vigilantism will only lead to more culpability and perhaps even worse, tragedy. Additionally, for your information, martial arts philosophy in general does not support vigilantism. We believe in administering peace and recognise the importance of walking away from a fight. We only use force as a last resort when all else fails.
However, one thing is certain. Your statement has pulled the very thread that unravelled the picture, which begs the question: Are our police that powerless to prevent crime to a point that you had to advocate vigilantism?
If so, then perhaps you could explain to us why has the situation become so deteriorated that you are recommending street justice over law and order?
Perhaps, it may be prudent to think carefully about the message you are trying to send to the public in the future. In the meantime, I highly suggest that you should consider reviewing certain items.
For instance, prioritising the safety of the public to begin with, and perhaps a more effective security and policing strategy in dealing with crime.
These would require a diversified strategy in approach to crime and disorder, and focus. It would be my educated guess that there are more factors at play here than meets the eye. So, please do not simplify the issue and continuously propound more silly, short-term solutions. We need to claim back our streets and neighbourhood. Lives are at stake and thieves are hungry, greedy and selfish.
I will end my letter with a quote, which you may find sufficiently illuminating:
“The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.”~ William Francis Butler
*An Honours graduate in Forensic Sciences, Munira Mustaffa is a researcher and an advocate for a more effective missing child alert system (NURIN Alert) and has a strong interest in deviant criminal behaviour and sexual crimes, and wishes to pursue post-graduate studies relating to security and policing in the future.
By Munira Mustaffa*
The Malaysian Insider
11 July 2012