Is there any national institution that, despite the enormous amount of its authority, is more powerless than the police? The police always show their incompetence when it comes to dealing with angry radical groups. I begin to think that every time rocker Ikang Fawzi appears on TV ads for erectile dysfunction medication, the ad is actually aimed at the police’s authority.
Actually, the police could use a therapy session or two to enhance the performance of their batons. The men in brown are the authorized and legal guardians of the civilians, but it seems that their batons suddenly go limp every time the bamboo-wielding radical groups appear. Every time the bamboo gang shows up, police batons begin to shrink to a microscopic size, leaving the safety of the citizens in the hands of the mob.
If you’re familiar with the pattern, there’s nothing surprising about the Salihara incident last week, when radical groups stormed the cultural center to disrupt Canadian writer Irshad Manji’s book launch and discussion. Of course the police were there, but their presence was nothing more than to be the usher for the radicals. The people who held the event clearly didn’t violate any law, even the freedom of speech is guaranteed by constitution, but when the law-abiding event is attacked by vigilantes — a violation of the law — the silence of the police means that they take the side of the attackers.
The man who made “the police are not responsible if anything happens” as standard procedure must have been regarded highly by the radicals. The same warning has been given to different groups who are threatened when they seek the police’s protection. The police said the same to the congregation of the GKI Yasmin. They told that to the Ahmadi members and also the Shia. They told that to the church members of HKBP Filadelfia. When the protest was held against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) a couple of months ago, the warning was also handed to the protesters. The people in Salihara had their turn on Friday to hear the golden warning of the police, and Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta couple of days ago was the latest to receive such warning.
The warning fails logic at so many levels, especially the basic thought of the police being the servants and protectors of the people. By saying they will not take any responsibility if the people are harmed, it means they are failing to perform their duty to enforce the law. There are these people who think they are above the law and the way the police treat them makes it sensible for them to believe so.
Why the police are not bothered at all by this condescending manner of the radicals is one of the nation’s biggest mysteries. It’s not only that their faces have been slapped, but some people are taking a dump on them. The police should be ashamed of this insult — unless, of course, they don’t mind that their authority is being disrespected by others.