Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tegas, Adil dan Berhemah?

The motto of the Malaysian police force is Tegas (Strict), Adil (Fair) dan Berhemah (Well-mannered). However, I have a reason to question this motto when I think about what happened over the weekend.

The usual last-minute rush that Malaysians practice, especially when it comes to paying summonses at a discounted rate, persisted over the weekend. I went to the Seremban 2 Police Station at 11am on Saturday and seeing the long lines, I asked a cop standing outside at the guard post if the Traffic Unit was open on Sundays and he said yes, from 8am – 12pm.

I then decided to come back on Sunday morning.

When I got to the police station on Sunday morning at 8.05 am, I went in and the whole place was in chaos. The counters hadn’t opened, there were no signboards directing you to the summons checking counters and the payment counters, and everyone was relying on everyone else for direction.

Sorting myself out, I joined the summons checking line which was already about 30 people long. The station wasn’t that big and the line was already snaking its way like a winding river. Would it be asking for too much for the police to put up proper sign boards or directions to show the crowds what to do?

As people kept coming in, everyone started asking each other where the end of the line was for checking and payment. And still the counters weren’t open.

Then at 8.40am, an audible sigh of relief went through the crowd when the counters started to open. There were only 3 counters that opened – one for checking your summons, and two for making payment. And they opened late!

Ten minutes later, a policeman stands in the middle of the crowd and tells everyone that the line for checking summonses should be outside the station to minimise the crowd inside. In true Malaysian style, everyone rushes out.

Well, you can guess what happened – those who came late suddenly found themselves in the front of the queue, and those who has been lining up for an hour found themselves at the back. I was one of those unfortunate ones who’d been lining up for almost an hour but found myself right at the back.

You think I was going to be a typical Malaysian and take this sitting down? Or rather, standing and lining up? I wasn’t about to give up my Sunday morning just because of we had an inept police force. (You may argue that I would have been used to it by now, but that’s another story altogether!)

I went up the policeman who gave the order and told him that I thought it wasn’t fair that he asked everyone to line up outside in such a haphazard manner as those who came early had lost their places in the queue and that he should have put up proper signs or directions.

You know his reply?
“Ye lah, mana kita nak tahu, ini emergency!”

I was aghast! Every Malaysian knows that Sunday was almost the last day for getting and paying discounted summonses and you’re telling me that this was an emergency? Do you even know the meaning of the word emergency? Let me enlighten you.

According to Merriam-Webster, and emergency is an unforeseen combination of circumstances that calls for immediate action and can also be interpreted as an urgent need for assistance or relief.

Some words that can be highlighted to describe the word emergency are urgent, unforeseen, immediate risk, unexpected, sudden, accidental, unanticipated, surprising. I could go on.

What I cannot understand is how the policeman used the word “emergency” to describe the situation. Every Malaysian wouldn’t have used that word seeing that a crowd at the police station on Sunday to pay summons was expected, especially seeing the Malaysians are generally ‘last-minuters’.

Anyway, when I told him what he did wasn’t fair, his reply was, “Ye la, sekarang you nak saya buat apa? You kene beratur je-lah.”

Which part of Tegas, Adil dan Berhemah is he fulfilling? Certainly not the Adil part. Nor the Berhemah part. And someone higher is definitely not being Tegas about the fact that they can open their counters 40 minutes late.

Yes, dear readers, that is the sad state of the police force in our country. And we can connect it to the issue of knowledge workers in Malaysia, more specifically the brain drain.

Just giving returning Malaysians a tax-exempt house and car (or anything else in the pipelines) is definitely not going to be enough. Revamp the civil service, the education system and the public transport and the rakyat won’t even want to leave the country.

For me, my experience on Sunday was just another reason to migrate.


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