RPK drama: Press lies, police bullying, as Khalid tries to be a hero
The newly-appointed deputy inspector-general of police, Khalid Abu Bakar, seems to be trying to elbow aside his boss and to make an instant hero of himself in the eyes of Umno and government leaders by trying to trap Raja Petra Kamarudin in Bangkok and taking action to prop up Najib Razak.
There has been a curious coincidence of events since Raja Petra appeared on TV3 in a two-month-old interview, broadcast last week, just before the Sarawak election. There has also been a curious coincidence of events surrounding Khalid Abu Bakar, who has been in the spotlight since 2009 for making one lie after another and who on Saturday seems to have fed the press a pack of lies about what was going on in Bangkok.
Khalid Abu Bakar, to refresh memories, was Selangor chief police officer when Shah Alam schoolboy Aminulrasyid Amza was shot dead by police last year. On Tuesday, it will be exactly a year since Aminulrasyid died. He was shot in the head at 2am on April 26 by police who chased after him when he was on a joyride in his sister’s car.
Khalid Abu Bakar claimed that Aminul was a criminal, a thug, because he supposedly had a parang in his car. He claimed that Aminul tried to reverse the car and ram the policemen. But Aminul’s schoolmate in the car said Aminul died in his lap, still at the wheel, and the car rammed into a retaining wall.
Khalid Abu Bakar evidently lied.
A year earlier, in January 2009, the death in police custody took place of A Kugan. Khalid Abu Bakar said Kugan had taken a glass of water and died of breathing difficulties. He asked the public not to speculate about the death. After a huge public outcry the Attorney-General classified the case as one of murder: Kugan had been tortured and murdered.
Khalid Abu Bakar evidently lied.
Other notable events during Khalid Abu Bakar’s time as Selangor CPO: the death of Teoh Beng Hock in custody of anti-corruption officers, and the parading and desecration of a cow’s head by Muslim activists.
But on Oct 13 that year, six months after Aminul’s death, Khalid Abu Bakar was promoted, to director of internal security and public order at federal police headquarters. Higher-ups were to remark on police “success in lowering the crime rate” in Selangor (that means fewer people bothered to lodge police reports).
And this month, six months after being promoted, Khalid Abu Bakar was promoted again, just as RPK hits the headlines.
On April 13, an interview with Raja Petra is aired over TV3′s primetime Buletin Utama: as a result, RPK is accused in a vicious media campaign of a sellout, of having been turned over, of making a U-turn.
The next day, April 14, the police announce that Khalid Abu Bakar was promoted as deputy inspector-general of police, effective the following day.
On April 14, the same day as the announcement of Khalid’s promotion, the little-known Malay rights group Jaringan Melayu Malaysia lodges a police report about an Utusan Malaysia article on Raja Petra Kamarudin’s interview with TV3. The JMM demanded an investigation of an alleged to prevent Najib Razak becoming prime minister.
That same day, Najib Razak claims the truth has prevailed. A heavily-twisted Bernama report describes RPK’s statements as a “confession”, and “denying [Najib's] involvement”. Malaysia Chronicle, among others, carries a damning headline: “Raja Petra U-turns for Najib and Rosmah”.
On Wednesday this week, the inspector-general Ismail Omar visited Penang. His visit got big play in the NST on Thursday and smaller treatment in the Star, which instead played up Khalid’s purported surprise at being appointed deputy. Khalid talks about measures to “improve the police force” because of public scepticism about the police. (See » Day of Pigs)
The next day, Friday, Khalid’s boss is taken ill at Bukit Aman’s monthly assembly. He’s taken to hospital and told to rest. Exhaustion, it seems.
The same day, Friday, blogger Din Merican, who was mentioned by Raja Petra in the TV3 interview, is interrogated for three hours at Bukit Aman. Din is one of four named by Jaringan Melayu for police investigation.
Also on Friday, Khalid announces the end of speed-trap ambushes of motorists — big play results in all the media on Saturday, including a front-page in the NST and Star. Khalid spouts some bullshit about how this amounts to police “transparency”.
Then, on Saturday evening, Khalid is back in the spotlight after Malaysia Today flashes a news-break that RPK has been hauled in by policed in Bangkok.
But, instead of “transparency”, what Khalid and the police told the press amounts to a pack of lies.
Khalid says Raja Petra Kamarudin had voluntarily having made a statement to the police in Bangkok. The press duly publishes it. But the accounts by Raja Petra and his lawyer Haris Ibrahim, and the reports published at Malaysia Today, tell a different story.
The NST report on Sunday
It is a story of police intimidation and double-dealing, of brute force on the ground, covered up by senior officers lying about actions of their junior officers by making bland press statements that supposedly state “facts”.
The police rely on “stenographer journalists” who take down what officials say, and regurgitate it in their reports, even if the officials are lying. What the press reported on Saturday was this:
- A high-ranking official called a press conference
- We the press attended the press conference
- The policeman said this and that.
- We took it all down. Here is what he said.
- (Don’t ask if it was true.) It is a truthful account of someone telling a lie.
The reader is left to piece it together, picking up what he can from rumours, friends or the Internet, and from denials of press reports by those involved, or from politicians (usually opposition ones) picking apart what officials said or did not say.
The press remains aloof of the truth, or the real story. Their hands are clean. We didn’t say it. “They” said it.
Khalid Abu Bakar told the press that:
- Raja Petra Kamarudin had voluntarily given a statement to Malaysian police. He made the statement at his hotel, and cooperated with the police
- It was about a police report by a group, and it was about RPK’s 2008 statutory declaration.
But Raja Petra and his lawyer Haris Ibrahim say that:
- The police officer was insistent that RPK must go to the embassy
- RPK did not make any statement at the hotel
- The policeman, Assistant Commissioner Aziz, was not bothered about coming to the hotel on Sunday morning — “tak payahla”.
- Asst Cmsr Aziz almost came to blows with RPK’s lawyers and was evasive about the report
- RPK and his lawyers thought it was about his declaration in 2008, which he had asked repeatedly to be investigated.
- The police were only interested in the Utusan Malaysia report about the TV3 interview and the alleged conspiracy against Najib.
MalaysiaKini had a Bernama report at 8pm on Saturday with Khalid Abu Bakar saying that RPK had given his statement to officers from Bukit Aman. On Sunday and up to Sunday evening, the NST, Star and others continued to say RPK had given his statement the previous night.
Yet RPK and Haris said no statement was made on Saturday, as Malaysian Insider, Free Malaysia Today and Malaysia Today reported. But the story stayed unchanged at NST and Star Online all day, until late on Sunday evening.
Someone was lying. It’s not likely to be RPK and Haris. That leaves only the police, trying to make heroes of themselves. And the press went along for the ride.