By Mariam Mokhtar
Every child knows not to play with matches. The Malaysian police force should have known better.
The first we heard of it was when fire engines raced to the police station where businessman Hii Tiong Huat had been detained in the crackdown on Bersih 2.0 supporters. Leaked reports indicate that a policeman had inadvertently caused a fire at the station where Hii was being interrogated.
The blaze was swiftly brought under control and no one suffered serious injury apart from a few who had to be treated for smoke inhalation and shock, others for singed eyebrows and moustaches.
According to unconfirmed sources, the blaze started when police personnel, who had been interrogating Hii for several hours, started smoking.
The Sarawakian who has been dubbed ‘Uncle Bersih’, has unwittingly become a Bersih hero. Hii had been arrested on July 8 for picketing in Petaling Street with his makeshift placards. He was released on July 9 but re-arrested on July 21. His third detention was on July 22-23.
During his most recent detention, Hii complained of humiliating treatment. He has since complained to the Human Rights Commission, urging it to initiate an inquiry into police abuse of powers and lack of respect for human rights. He has campaigned for the formation of an independent police commission.
A Malaysiakini report stated that a police personnel, who had racially abused Hii, then shoved his buttocks into Hii’s face and let rip, at least 10 times.
Perhaps the police force is mindful of public perception especially as their anti-corruption counterparts have become pariahs because of their interrogation techniques and are hated by the public.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC’s) infamous track record in interrogation is legendary. Some of those who have gone in for questioning have left in a box. Two appear to have jumped out of a window.
Enquiry upon enquiry will reveal that no MACC staff were present when the person took flight. The CCTVs were pointing the wrong way or someone forgot to load the film in the camera.
The inquest into the deaths will also state that ‘no murder was committed’ and also that the person ‘did not commit suicide’.
No one would have seen or heard anything. There is perhaps some truth in this. MACC staff were probably too busy watching on-line pornography or ordering goods on the online shopping websites. Others were out for ‘extended breakfast’ or ‘power lunches’.
Having interviews on ground floors will not help the MACC. Anyone found outside the windows will have injuries consistent with a fall from a great height.
The police force abhor being compared with the MACC. It is conscious of its declining image. It has suffered bad publicity with the unresolved deaths of S Kugan, Aminulrasyid Amzah and Teoh Beng Hock. Its new directive bans police personnel from pulling fingernails out, lighting cigarettes on people’s skin or punching them where it does not show.
Waterboarding is not condoned by the police force because it is an expensive method of interrogation, only because medical personnel have to be present.
It is being exceptionally creative. To break wind in someone’s face as an interrogation technique might be perverse. The use of other gases may be dangerous.
If the detainee has an adverse reaction to chemical gases, medical intervention is necessary. With farts, the police need only allow the detainee to recover with a few gasps of ‘normal air’ before another policeman releases more foul odour. Most of our policemen are fat and look as though their diets would produce especially evil flatus.
Breaking wind is almost the perfect interrogation technique; comparable to the perfect crime committed with a frozen leg of lamb, decades ago; A woman murdered her husband when she found out about his infidelity. A few hours after she had committed the crime, she called the police.
The criminal investigators stated that he had been bludgeoned with a heavy instrument. The police spent hours combing the house and grounds for the murder weapon. They did not realise that they were destroying the evidence by eating the lamb roast, which the lady kindly served them for lunch, to thank them for their dedication to duty.
Farting as a new interrogation technique in the police force leaves no trace, nor marks (unless the person administering the techniques has an accident or a ‘follow-through’) and it is not difficult to ‘administer’.
No one likes to have someone break wind in their face although in the sex trade, some people pay good money for this. Couples who are intimate with each other say that the relationship is established when the other shuts them in a ‘Dutch Oven’. And in Malawi, the problem of breaking wind is so severe that a law was passed and people fined, for farting in public
Farting is cheap and the only expense incurred is perhaps to send the interrogators for a curry lunch with dhall, a western one with baked beans, a Chinese meal with taugeh or a kampong lunch with rebong masak lemak and deep-fried jackfruit in batter, for dessert.
Unconfirmed sources say that the policeman’s farts were unintentionally lit when another policeman sitting close to Hii, lit his cigarette at the same time as the person who was administering the torture. The torturer is still in intensive care because he had a flashback.
The policemen were shocked at what transpired, they were unable to prevent the spread of the fire which had first consumed a wastepaper basket full of paper and later, the furniture.
The police believed also that the fire was divine intervention and released Hii the following day. They were however, incensed with Hii for embarrassing them so first, they sent him to the psychiatric ward of Kuala Lumpur hospital by tricking him into seeking treatment for his singed eyebrows.
Doctors treating those from the police station, revealed that the police personnel were unaware that the noxious gases were flammable. Every school boy (and girl) knows this fact.
The last time the police force suffered a fire on its premises was at the convention for ‘New Techniques of Interrogation’ held at the Titiwangsa PDRM Golf Club on May 23, 2011. Although it was reported that an electric buggy that was being charged had caused the fire, staff in the Golf Club denied this.
Have a happy Hari Raya.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.