Nov 7, 1999

Riot police protest against negative public portrayal

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 - In an emotionally charged public protest today, brutal, violent Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officers expressed frustration over the stereotyping in the independent media of riot policemen as brutal, violent psychopaths. The demonstration by some 500 FRU riot police was violently broken up by another 500 FRU riot police.

"As a brutal, violent riot policeman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my profession in some of the media," Ahmad Terajang, 31, told reporters at the demonstration in Dataran Merdeka. "None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."

He then began screaming and firing tear gas into a small crowd of civilian by-standers nearby.

"It hurts that in this supposedly enlightened day and age, people still make assumptions about other people," Terajang said, as he slowly twisted the neck of a nearby pensioner. "We should not rely on simple generalizations. Each crazed riot policeman is an individual."

Another demonstrating FRU officer, A Pukulsamy, 29, said that he himself has often been unfairly stereotyped. "Any time I approach a small crowd with fully loaded tear gas guns and batons swinging, people just assume I'm going to harm them," he said. "That really hurts."

"Yes, I sometimes do crack their skulls in the name of law and order," he noted. "But there is so much more to me."

"I walk into a supermarket in full riot gear and people immediately jump to conclusions on the basis of the colour of my helmet and uniform," officer Lim Ban Tai. "We are victims of prejudice ,and this can be very hurtful and frustrating," he said weeping from the tear gas.

FRU officers had last week pleaded their case and brought their grievances to human rights group SUARAM. A subsequent peaceful demo organised by SUARAM, "Freedom for the FRU Day", was violently broken up by FRU.

"People forget that we are professionals and take great pride in our work," said Ali Sepak, 32. Ali gained worldwide fame when international news agencies filmed him dragging a sixty-year old woman by the hair along Jalan TAR and beamed the pictures to every cable news channel in the world. "We have brought international recognition to Malaysia. And what do we get? Bad PR."

According to Ali, stereotypes against brutal, violent riot policemen don't work because they don't take into account the vast diversity of professional experience and variety of cultures among them.

"There are so many different kinds of brutal, violent riot policemen. Each of us has our own unique reasons and motivations for beating the crap out of people. Some like the brisk exercise. Others like to see the sight of blood. I personally like to hear the gurgle in their throats as I ram my baton down their windpipes."

Pukulsamy also stressed the importance of understanding and celebrating the cultural differences between brutal, violent riot policemen and non-brutal, non-violent civilians. "All the different peoples of the world have something special to offer each other," he said. "Our diversity is our greatest strength. Let's not make a weakness out of that strength."

To emphasize his point, Pukulsamy fired into a nearby crowd with his automatic rifle, killing nine.

"I'm proud to be a brutal, violent riot policeman, obviously," he said in between loading ammunition. "But I'm a professional first. Eat lead, you Reformasi bastards!" he declared, as he fired another clip into a passing schoolbus.

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