On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Rights for the wronged

When the lives of innocent people are on the line and split-second decisions have to be made, the majority of us would prefer to see strong police action.

SOMEONE walks into our room in the dead of night and he is armed with a gun. So is his accomplice.

He makes clear the intention of his presence, shouting obscenities and threatening you and your wife wildly. It is a robbery in progress.

He asks to see the safe but after you have opened it, he is not satisfied with what he sees, thinking you have stored the expensive items elsewhere.

He punches and kicks you as your wife watches in horror. Her screams wake up the other family members, including your teenage daughter.

Suddenly, the rest of the family is in danger. The threat of rape becomes a reality.

At that point, you wish the police would come rushing through the door and put an end to your terrifying experience. Or at the least, you hope an alert neighbour would call the police.

Now, if the cops arrive just as the robbers are about to escape from your house, you may wish that the police would just shoot the scums who put your lives in danger.

Or would you be like one of those naïve parliamentarians who insist that these robbers shouldn’t be shot? And my impression of such stupidity is that these politicians hope our cops should be shot at first.

I have never heard of these criminal-friendly politicians coming to the defence of our policemen, who are dying in the hospitals for performing their duty. Nor do I see them giving comfort to the grieving widows at funerals. Most of us would really like to know what they are thinking.

No doubt there are rogue, corrupt and lazy policemen whom we hate but we know that overall, our policemen have performed well when it comes to tackling serious crime.

Nobody walks around and draws their guns at you or the policemen unless they are hardcore criminals. The requirements for legal gun owners and bodyguards are strict too, as these weapons must be concealed at all times and every bullet used must be accounted for.

The person is also required to carry his permit at all times to indicate he has been given the authority to own a gun.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was perfectly right when he made the “shoot first” remark while talking about how the custodians of the law encounter hardcore criminals.

It is easy to make politically-correct statements that do not create any controversy but in many instances, when the lives of innocent people, especially victims or policemen, are on the line and split-second decisions have to be made, I think the majority of us would prefer to see gun-toting criminals being shot dead.

It is easy to make lofty, seemingly principled statements in a safe and comfortable environment and issuing statements condemning excessive use of police force against criminals but my stand is clear too – policemen and victims have rights too.

Do we want to see Malaysia become one of those litigious societies where criminals can file charges against you because they hurt themselves while escaping from your home after a burglary, and courts actually give them awards for damages?

We seem to have short memories. Just weeks ago, many of us were complaining aloud about the horrifying increase in criminal activities and gang shoot-outs.

And now we are saying that criminals should not be shot, even in the most dangerous situations, and our law enforcement officers are expected to play diplomats when dealing with criminals.

Zahid may have found himself running into controversies with his remarks but we need a tough guy like him to deal with criminals.

You can’t have a wimp to stop crime. You need a tough guy to strike fear in the hearts and minds of our bad guys, and Zahid fits the bill.

The police force has already gone on record to say Zahid doesn’t interfere in their jobs and that he gives them the necessary back-up.

For those of us who are old enough and have seen enough movies, we want our Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood in our police ranks, and for the present generation, we want to see a Jason Statham in real-life situations.

We need to give every support to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to make us feel safe again. Don’t worry about the politicians, worry about our safety.

And in the same token, Zahid shouldn’t worry about journalists who look out for his gaffes. That comes with the job.

Closing down newspapers is a thing of the past in the digital age.

And even if he still has the authority, the fact is that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have their say. He shouldn’t even think about it.

There’s also no need for him to get carried away in the run-up to the Umno polls as he is likely to garner the most votes in the race for the vice-president post.

He should grab the comfortable lead now by making postures that would put him up as a potential for a bigger office.

Zahid will get our full support for shooting down gun-toting criminals, not for shooting pen-toting journalists.