The Prime Minister should issue an immediate directive to suspend with instant effect the use of guns by enforcement personnel of government agencies before more lives are harmed or lost
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should issue an immediate directive to suspend with instant effect the use of guns by enforcement personnel of government agencies before more lives are harmed or lost. The whole issue of equipping government enforcement officers with firearms should be reviewed, fully involving the civil society, and debated in Parliament.
The shocking trigger-happy incident in Penang on Thursday night where an enforcement officer of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, without warning, opened fire twice in a raid on pirated VCD sales, with one bullet passing through 18-year-old VCD peddler Yeoh Yew Jin’s chest and hit the back of 53-year-old Chow Heng Khow, who was having supper with his wife at a nearby coffee shop, should never have happened at all.
Just like the five-state five-hour power blackout earlier on the same day, which Tenaga Nasional deputy president Datuk Abdul Hadi Mohd Deros has said “should not have happened” and “cannot happen”, the trigger-happy shooting of Yeoh and Chow by a Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry enforcement officer “should not have happened”, “cannot happen” and yet happened! What is most disturbing is that recently in Malaysia, there seems to be more and more such incidents – which “should not have happened”, “cannot happen” and yet happened.
New Sunday Times today carries the front-page headline report that the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Bakri Omar is bringing back the truncheon to the policeman’s belt after an absence of 25 years, and is considering arming constables on foot patrols with handheld gun-like weapons which discharge voltage instead of bullets to make sure that men on the ground only use absolute force when necessary.
It is tragic and outrageous that while the police are rightly moving towards instructions to all police personnel of “first a truncheon, then mace and only when necessary is the revolver unholstered”, enforcement agencies whose personnel are equipped with firearms are moving in the opposite direction.
Abdullah should also reprimand the Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Shafie Apdal who had prejudged and defended the shooting incident, claiming that the enforcement officer had discharged his firearm in self-defence as “he was beaten up and was protecting himself” – even before completion of police investigations.
Cabinet Ministers should never forget that they are Ministers of the people and not just of their officers, as they are paid by the people and not by their staff!
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman