If you have been a victim of crime in Malaysia, you will appreciate what I mean when I say that victims of crime can spend hours making a police report. In some cases, victims are given the run-around and sent from one police pondok to another.
When making the report, the policeman on duty will ensure that the events are accurately recorded. After taking much time and energy lodging the report, why retract it?
This is what happened on 2 April, when we were told that steamboat restaurant owner, Kwan Pei Chong. had retracted the police report against businessman, Tan Wai Khan, who had slapped customers in Kwan’s resturant, intimidated staff and wrecked his property. Why was this retraction allowed to happen?
Had Tan paid him compensation?
Or as some people have suggested, had Kwan been threatened that if he continued with the case, his family and business would be at risk?
Which is it?
Tan should realise that sorry is no cure. He should he slapped with the most severest form of punishment.
Will this arrogant and violent datuk and his accomplice escape punishment? Will the victims of the violent datuk, such as the customers who were slapped, the staff who were threatened and subject to abuse, and the restaurant owner who suffered loss of business and broken items in his restaurant be able to receive justice?
Kwan is not the first to retract his police report. A few years ago, a politician who was in a car, late at night, with an underage girl, escaped justice when his underage victim retracted her police report about her alleged molestation.
There are other cases of police reports being retracted when the perpetrator has links to the underworld.
In most cases, the victims of these acts of violence, including rape, will not receive justice. In some cases, the delay in investigating the cases, or the delay in the confirmation of a court date, or lawyers being absent on the date of the trial, that prompts many victims to shuna public hearing, because of the shame, the guilt and the burden of waiting for justice.
So, in the steamboat owner’s case, what is the real reason for retracting the report?
Malaysians reacted with outrage at a video of Tan slapping customers in the restaurant. They wanted him to be punished for his uncontrollable violence. They were pleased with the swift police work in apprehending Tan and his friend, two days after the alleged assault.
Now that the police report has been retracted, how can we expect justice to be served to the victims of the assault? Why should arrogant individuals like Tan, be allowed to get away with thuggery? What example does it set for others?
As far as most of us are aware, no-one is allowed to retract a police report, but this terrible practice happens on a regular basis in Malaysia. Why?
Singapore does not allow police reports to be retracted. Does retracting a police report invalidate an insurance claim? Will the insurance prosecute the restaurateur for making a fraudulent claim?
With the retraction, Malaysians will suspect that corruption is at play. It does not leave them with any confidence in the judicial system or law enforcement, if police reports are allowed to be retracted at someone’s whim and fancy.
Last January, Tan was smartened-up to look the part for his public apology. He read out the typed script in halting Malay and said sorry to the victims, and to Malaysians, for his irrational and drunken behaviour.
Malaysians were livid because Tan was apparently a Datuk. He was livid that a couple had asked him to lower his voice as he was disturbing other diners.
We are also fed-up with the recent spate of titled people abusing others, jumping the queue, demanding special treatment, and when they are challenged, turning violent.
In his apology, Tan admitted that his ego was bruised. Despite his claims that he should have known better as he was an older person, most Malaysians suspect that as a titled individual, he probably did not imagine others would have the temerity to question his loutish behaviour.
Retracting the police report does not leave Malaysians confident with the system. The police had done admirable work in tracing Tan and his alleged accomplices within two days of the assault. Think of the police time, manpower and resources that have been wasted.
When a police report is retracted, more questions are left unanswered. We saw how Tan’s alleged accomplices arrived within minutes of being summoned. Does the restaurant owner fear repercussions if he continued with his case?
Does the restaurant owner fear the titled person? Arrogant people like Tan probably feel ‘protected’ by their titles? Tan has caused acute embarrassment to the Sultan who bestowed the title. Why is he still a ‘datuk’? Malaysians are shocked by the quality of recent ‘datuks’.
When a victim of an alleged assault retracts his earlier police report against the perpetrator, damage is inflicted. The police probably feel that their effort has gone to waste. The other victims, like the young couple who were slapped and the restaurant staff who were intimidated, will feel let down. Other Malaysians will feel that violent people appear to get away with crimes.
Retracting police reports should be made a crime. It wastes both police and the court’s time.
Perhaps, if those who retract their reports are brought to trial and punished, we may know why the retractions were made, if corruption had a hand in the retraction, or if threats had been made.
Malaysians want to have confidence in the judicial system and the police force. If we are to trust the system, those who change their minds, should also face the full force of the law. We also need a brave magistrate to say he will continue with the case, even though the police report has been retracted.