Not My Average Friday Evening

I was walking around Desa Sri Hartamas sometime after 7pm, 16th January 2015. I was waiting to meet my friend who had a tendency to be late.

I walked past Kantin to the road leading to Souled Out. I was near the place that used to have a burger truck and shisha.

Somebody grabbed me from behind, with his right arm around my neck and asked “kau pergi mana?” I was confused. I turned around expecting to see Tarquin Hashimi?, my friend who had a tendency to surprise me from behind with a bear grab. It wasn’t him.

I asked if he was a policeman, as he was not dressed in uniform as he escorted me, with his arm around my neck, towards Jalan 26A/70A (where the big police station was). He didn’t seem to concerned about cars as we crossed the road, and no cars honked, interestingly. I asked him to show his kad kuasa (Police authority card) but he did not.

He asked where I stayed and I replied with which Taman I stayed in. Then he asked again, louder, and I answered again. He asked what I worked as. I said, “saya buat Android app”. He said “pfft apa benda buat Android app” as if he did not believe me.

I asked what I did wrong and I do not remember what he replied, or if he replied to my question at all.

Upon entering I was brought into the nearest door facing the entrance. The corridor made a sharp left, where I entered the second door on the left. The room had a window with curtains behind it that faced the outside.

There were altogether 5 of us in that room. The guy who grabbed me looked a bit like Aizat Amdan. (I will refer to him as Aizat* from now on.) To my right, a skinny cop who looked like a guy I know called Areef (who I’ll call Areef*). Another guy in a crew cut with a mole to the side of his mouth, to the left of Aizat*. There was another guy on a laptop with a scanner/printer combo.

They asked for my NRIC, which I handed to them. They asked me to empty my pockets and bag.

Areef* asked me to unlock my phone and he went through it, scrolling through pictures. He saw the MyDistress app and asked what it was. I told him it would send a distress signal to PDRM Selangor. He was probably curious since it had a PDRM logo on it.

They saw my Politiko notebook and asked about it, saying it was a benda subversif pembangkang. “Ni geng Adam Adli ni”. I said it was just a “benda free”. Aizat* went through it, and I pointed out the Android app mocks that I had drawn in it. There were also some Transformers sketches and some notes about Copyright Law, which he noticed as well. There was also a list of band names, which they asked about. I said that I had written down the names for one of the open mics I went for.

They saw my camera and Aizat* asked how to turn it on. He then looked through the pictures. I then said that there are pictures there, including of Rock The World. “Gambar gig”, I said.

They asked why I was resisting and I said I was scared. I told them I thought they were going to rob me. They asked, “kau pernah kena samun ke?” I said no. They asked again, and I said no again. They told me that if a robber wanted to rob me, a robber would have immediately gotten out the knife.

Then I said that usually when police stop me they ask me to show their NRIC. Even when I’ve seen foreigners, they do not get grabbed from behind, but they get blocked and asked for identification.

They said that they will not courteously “baaang, minta tolong tunjuk IC” in a soft, gentle voice. They said that they were “tegas, bukan kasar”.

Areef* then took his turn at explaining. He grabbed my wrist and asked, “kalau saya tangkap kamu macam ini, kamu boleh lari tak?” “Tak”, I replied. He asked again, “kalau saya tangkap kamu macam ini, kamu boleh lari tak?” “Er, boleh?” I answered. So he explained that is why they had to grab me from behind on the neck.

So then I asked how I could tell if they were robbers or cops. They said that if I had shouted, “tolong ada orang nak samun saya!” and a member of the public intervened by trying to stop Aizat*, then he or his partner would show his kad kuasa.

They explained that by bringing me to the police station that they were actual cops, and if they were not, they would have been stopped at the entrance (but the main gate was open anyway, with a guardhouse.)

They asked why I was walking around aimlessly. I said that I was waiting for a friend. The crew cut cop said that if I was to wait for a friend, I would sit down at a mamak and have a drink. I explained that I did not want to do that as I was going for dinner later and I’d be full of water. He questioned that. I said I had stomach problems, and they laughed.

Aizat then asked how long I’d been going for gigs. In my head I would’ve said 8 years (actually, 14 now that I think of it) but I stumbled and said 2. He later asked again and I said 3-4 years. So he said he had been going for Rock The World since he was 13, and he only missed one. (So did I, and if he missed Rock The World 1 as well, that would make him around 27.) He then asked me which was the best one and I said, the one with 3 stages where two were facing out and one in the middle. He said that was around 2007-2008.

Then he said that I should not say gigs because gigs ada elemen subversif. The pictures he saw, of open mics, were “muzik budak-budak, bukan gig sebenar. Lain kali jangan kata gig”.

So yes, the police have seen your pictures. My SD card went all the way back to Rock The World 14, so if I saw you perform then, so did Aizat*.

He also saw my Toyworld TW-01B Hegemon, a third-party Megatron toy that transforms into a realistic-looking handgun. Fortunately, he also saw pictures of it in robot mode, so he did not question me on that.

Finally, Aizat* asked that I stand up. He asked me if I knew what I was in the room for. “Er… sebab jalan-jalan tak tentu?” Then he said that it was because I was suspicious and he suspected me of concealing a weapon.

The cop on the computer printed a few copies of the report and got Areef* and Aizat* to sign. Aizat* realized he signed on the wrong part and went “tsssk”.

I did not have any statement or sign anything. They did not ask me to put my thumbprint on their report, either.

I asked if I could see the report (presumably in this context, I do not own the report). They said that I could not. They then asked under which Section of the law that I could see the report, to which I could not answer.

Areef* appeared from behind the window, smoking a cigarette. It was then I realized there was a window there.

Finally, Aizat* walked me out, and said that they’d been getting reports of a Chinese guy breaking car windows around the area. (In retrospect, that has been happening for quite a while now so I do feel sorry for Aizat* and fellow policemen, you haven’t found the right guy yet.)

I was just about to say, “okay see you at Rock The World!” but then my friend called at 7:53PM and so I said “see?” I spoke loudly to my friend how I was brought in to the police station. He picked me up and we went to a warung where Gerak Khas was playing, and we wondered if they ever showed the police arresting people who they thought were suspicious and finding out they were innocent.

I was quite shaken by the experience and nearly in tears as I walked out. My friend picked me up and I was just very, very thirsty. I cannot imagine though for someone who had not read the Red Book once (it tells you what to do when stopped by police) how they would feel! So it was not exactly as I thought it was, of course, and they did not tell me the reason for arrest until the end when he asked me stand up. In fact, I did not even ask if I was under arrest, and I did not ask for any of their names or identification. However, upon re-reading the Red Book, because Aizat* wanted to take me to the Police Station, I was thus under arrest.

I also felt shaken because, instead of shouting for help, I instead checked to see if it was my friend! I should’ve just shouted for help, as the elbow around neck could also be a kidnapper’s posture.

It’s interesting how a policeman’s logic and my logic is different. Similiarly, my mom’s logic and mine are different (her dad was a police officer, but I don’t know if I could call her a “anak kuarters”). So no, I don’t hate police, not because my grandfather was one, but because I understand that we all come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and they’ve been looking for the car-window-breaker for a while now while I wouldn’t think about it except when walking around Desa Sri Hartamas or SS2.

Here’s the link to the Red Book, in English and Malay, that talks about what to do when stopped by police, and your rights:

P.S. I’ve just spoken to a lawyer, who thinks that if they suspected me of carrying a weapon, there should be no reason for them to approach from the front, so I have no case against them. Which is fine by me – I was just curious if there was. So friends, now you know!

Edited 1:45AM, 26th January 2015: A rough sketch, in that POLITIKO notebook. X marks the spot I was grabbed from.

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