I refer to The Sun’s headline announcement, ‘Worrying silence’, published on Monday March 6 about Pastor Raymond’s abduction. Speaker of Selangor YB Hannah Yeoh and civil society colleague Rama Ramanathan wrote a good analysis of the vigil held and attended mainly by Christians and their Malay friends. Those vigils are now spreading nationwide and I believe will continue until the police give some positive or definitive explanation.
Unlike President Donald Trump who majors on fake news because he has legitimacy to create and further propagate it; I have no such platform of public immunity. Therefore, I can only use legitimate means and modes available to ordinary Malaysian citizens; ie for those of us who choose to do so. Most prefer not to, for reasons best known to themselves.
In this column therefore I will offer an alternate hypothesis to that of mainstream newspapers? I will call this apparent inaction of the police, what The Sun called ‘worrying silence’ as a kind of disturbing ignorance. Allow me to make my case.
Action in organisation theory
Action in organisation development is always deemed to be a volitional choice of every actor. Therefore, if we do not ask the actors to explain their motives or intentions, we are forced to give the benefit of the doubt.
That cannot be the case with public offices or organisations. Whether it is president of the USA, or the mayor of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), or our inspector-general of police (IGP), it is the democratic right of ordinary citizens and their support communities to enquire about public happenings and demand full disclosure accountability.
On the other hand, if The Sun’s headline’s unstated assumption is deemed right – that the police know more than they are speaking but they have chosen to keep silent about the investigations and progress. In fact, the IGP has gone on record asking citizens to shut up or not speak up.
I will however develop my own theory of what could be technically possible, if the police put their heart and soul into the search and recovery operation. Therefore while we wait in vigil-mode to understand true actions and intentions related to the finding and recovery, my alternative theory is as follows:
1. My assumption is that the police can always get all information they need, by legal and/or other legitimate means;
2. Therefore, it should not be impossible for the police, with their technical capabilities and legal authority, to identify and locate all vehicles and telephones deployed at that locality at that very time of the incident;
3. Further, given that all privatised highways are today fully monitored and video-recorded, it is not impossible to get recordings and monitor which direction the five vehicles were headed;
4. From such a recording, it is not impossible to get licence plate numbers of all vehicles and zoom down to owners for credible explanations about their drivers and agenda;
5. From all these data and analysed information, especially phone usage information; the police can develop a clearer theory about real intention and criminal violation of our public spaces; and
6. Then, they can get a court order to detain and interrogate at least the legal owners of the crime-deployed vehicles for intentions and agenda.
Police information is our insurance
The police are our only insurance programme for all our democratic public social space freedoms. The police must assure us by their actions and conduct. Let me translate this in some practical ways.
I bought my first insurance plan only in 1981 after my first child was born. Before that I told my friend that assurances by God alone was sufficient to protect and preserve care for my family. The full weight of public space and ordinary life responsibility for my first child and the mother only hit me like a bolt of lightning after fatherhood.
Likewise, surely our faith and confidence in the police needs their full and complete assurance; and especially when they fail to be up front with what they know. Their timely information to the family and public plus community who care is their only form of insurance. Failure in this duty to inform and educate the family and community will result in misinformation and disinformation.
Merely giving verbal assurances “to trust the police or authorities” is never good enough for our continuation with ordinary lives especially when we feel insecure.
The very fact that a multi-ethnic group of more than 500 people turned up to stand up for the family is also a good insurance statement by the rakyat. The community has demonstrated support to the family.
My alternative theory
Premised upon the above, allow me to develop an alternate theory of why I think the police are apparently not yet competent in media communication, assuming they have good and proper strategic research and good planning competence.
I went for the vigil meet the other day. Rather unfortunately though, my confidence and views about the competence of the police to monitor and protect public spaces was destroyed by what I saw and experienced that night.
Their planners were not strategic and therefore they deployed what I will call ‘a small town mind-set’ to establish or propose the alternative location for the spontaneous prayer vigil called by one Subang Jaya pastor. The organisers named a road in front of the Selangor Police Headquarters but had not planned a space for the gathering.
Consequently, the early birds were given the run-around by the police, first by closing the entrance to the Police HQ, and then forcing all of us to go elsewhere to do multiple U-turns. Finally the early birds relocated themselves near a shopping mall away from the main two-way roads of Shah Alam. But, the police chose to block the entry road. I asked a police inspector why and he could not even explain his logic. ‘Ignorance’ ruled.
The police need to decide whether ordinary Malaysians are really their enemy; but instead, please understand that we have a right to demand an answer based on salaries paid and the public authority and responsibilities awarded to them by the current federal governance. That is public trust.
Therefore, as a retired public servant, can I advise the police to demonstrate their knowledge and competence for the trust and faith we already award all police officers who are sworn to serve both the Agong and country, but never any form of incompetent leadership.
KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with.
Source : @ Malaysiakini