Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Brinkmanship That The Authorities Play in Carrying Out Their Duties

In a tight multiracial country like Malaysia the line between what is sensitive and what is not is oftentimes difficult to discern.

Law enforcers and the authorities in charge often find it akin to an acute practice of brinkmanship in carrying out their duties.

There is no running away from having to face brickbats from detractors and opportunistic politicians to champion the cause of the so-called oppressed and down-trodden, depending on which way one looks at it.

The government of the day or any democratically-elected government for that matter will want to give the best in appeasing the people who voted them into power. No government, save for the crassly autocratic would bull doze their way once at the top.

And so, that brings us to at least two recent events that occurred at two levels of educational institutions, one at the University Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) and the other at a secondary school in Kuala Kubu Baru way in the boondocks of Selangor.

In UPM two weeks ago 10 students who had won seats on the Student Representative Council, were told that they were disqualified by the university management.

This had led to an uproar of protests from their supporters, followed by chaotic scenes on campus, at the end of which the 10 were reinstated.

In the second incident, seven students from SMK Kuala Kubu Baru were reported to have wanted to return their copies of the literature textbook ‘Interlok’ to the school principal because they did not want to read it.

What transpired was they alleged a teacher had used derogatory words against their action.

All these resulted in the students being taken to the police station and claimed to have been interrogated for 10 hours.

There is a parallel that can be found in these two separate incidents.

Without taking sides or going into details this has to stop.

The view from the street would, of course, put blame on the authorities for taking drastic and extreme measures without regards to the situation.

But then again, the police in Kuala Kubu Baru and the authorities in UPM may have done what they did without ulterior intent. It is not too difficult to put oneself in their place and see things from their perspective.

It would be quite mind boggling to quickly assume that they were being partisan.

However, both cases aptly describe a scenario where tact and common sense have to be used to appease the situation at hand.

Crass action in haste has to stop if the authorities really feel that dissent could pose a threat to security.

In this context, dissent should be controlled and differentiated with seditious acts that could lead to trouble.

Perhaps, what the authorities could have done was to put on hold their action on the alleged perpetrators and think outside the box.

Difficult this suggestion may sound at the time of the incident, but I dare say that tact could be used in both instances.

Put a moratorium on any action and look beyond the immediate.

Ask ourselves, could there have been fifth columnists involved to instigate the students at UPM as well as the fifth formers at SMK Kuala Kubu Baru? Your guess is as good as mine in both instances.

If the answer after investigation is in the affirmative, why not go after them, too?

Not easy, you say? Yes, not easy but it has to be done for the often unthinking hands of the evil doers can cause worse problems.

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