Datin Paduka Zaleha must be commended for voicing the silent and suffering womenhood in Malaysia who had not been able to find sympathy and support from policemen who insisted that domestic problems should be solved at home.
It is most shocking that the Inspector-General of Police should have reacted as if Zaleha and women groups’ were dangerous anti-national elements out to destroy not only the credibility of the police forces and but the very security of the nation, when what the Minister and women groups were complaining is about a very serious social attitude of police personnel who have not been able to catch up with changing times after Parliament has criminalised domestic violence.
It is most uncalled-for and indefensible for the IGP, in his first reaction last Thursday, to make insinuations and imputations about the integrity of the Minister for National Unity and Social Welfare, using language such as "We will deeply regret if if her statement is not true or is partially true, or if it had stemmed from provocation from some quarters".
From what the IGP said, one would have thought that Zaleha had accused the Police of some heinous wrongdoing, as corruption or rank indiscipline when all that she is asking is to focus attention on a very real social problem.
Zaleha is right that women’s groups are not demanding punishment against policemen who were reluctant to accept police reports or investigate domestic violence cases and instead advised complainants to return home and settle their domestic problem amicably, but that there is a need for a "re-education" of police personel in all the police stations throughout the country to understand the new law passed by Parliament making domestic violence criminal offences.
The IGP may think he was showing a good example as the country’s top policeman when he told a press conference yesterday, pointing to his wristwatch: "It is now 12 pm, and until now, we (the police) have yet to receive a single report or case from the Ministry to back her claim that police refuse to entertain reports on domestic violence.
"It, therefore, appears that whatever claims or allegations made against the police were just the result of hearsay from the public, or made on the spur of the moment."
Such sweeping statements by the IGP is most shocking to the Malaysian public, to say the least, who clearly know more than the top policeman in the country about the real problems on the ground. The IGP might have won in his war of words with the Minister for National Unity and Social Development, but he has definitely lost the support of the Malaysian public in what must be regarded as a rather bullying, unsympathetic and even gung-ho response to a real social problem felt by victims of domestic violence.
The IGP should be come down to earth from the pedestal he had placed himself and try to understand and resolve the problem of victims of domestic violence who find police personnel in the police stations in the country unsympathetic and reluctant to accept police reports or investigate domestic violence cases in the belief that these are problems to be resolved domestically - rather than to demand for "black-and-white" complaints.
It is time the IGP end his "High Noon" drama with the Minister for National Unity and Social Development and sit down to resolve the real problem of victims of domestic violence who want the police to take their complaints about domestic violence seriously.