Equip cops properly so they can work effectively

POLICE work in the real world isn’t like a TV show or movie, and hero cops don’t always recover from being shot.

Sjn Baharuddin Ramli was killed in the line of duty and his colleague Sjn Norihan Tari was seriously injured after taking three bullets. They were on an intelligence gathering assignment at Border Wall 9 along the Malaysia-Thailand border near Padang Besar, Perlis, when they surprised a gang of smugglers at about 2.30am on Tuesday.

Apart from being members of the General Operations Force (the light infantry arm of the Royal Malaysia Police), Sjn Baharuddin and Sjn Norihan are part of the storied Senoi Praaq, or War People, the Orang Asli division known for jungle tracking abilities and are highly valued by the police force.

They were corporals at the time of the incident but it was announced in Parliament on Thursday that they were promoted for their valour and sacrifice as well as conferred the Panglima Gagah Berani medal by the King.

It takes a devastating incident like this for most of us to notice the work our police personnel quietly do, risking their lives, facing all kinds of unexpected danger in their workday routine that most of us are unlikely to come across in our lifetimes.

Despite knowing the dangers, the men and women of our armed forces and police largely remain committed to carrying out their duty to enforce law and order in the country and protect us all. They are indeed a special breed.

Worryingly, the Nov 24 shooting was not the first this year. This month alone there have been three other incidents, on Nov 12,15 and 25.

In the Nov 25 event, another member of the General Operations Force was shot at but the bullet was absorbed by his bulletproof vest and only grazed his abdomen; no one was hurt in the other two events.

After the fatal border shootout, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador reported that Sjn Baharuddin and Sjn Norihan were armed with Walter P.99 pistols, which only have a 10-bullet capacity.

It was reported that the two cops had run out of bullets in the confrontation but they did not surrender; Sjn Baharuddin sent the injured Sjn Norihan back for help and was later discovered with his empty pistol by his side.

While we salute our men and women in uniform for their dedication, the government has a responsibility to equip them properly so they can perform their duty effectively and safely.

Arming them with the right equipment for specific assignments is essential, especially in a crucial zone like our porous land border with Thailand where smuggling activities are rampant.

Let Sjn Baharuddin’s death be a call to seriously review border patrol protocols and update the equipment used by personnel on duty there.

And perhaps it is also time to create a way to remember Sjn Baharuddin and others like him who have given their lives to protect this nation. How about building a cenotaph or a wall of remembrance with their names inscribed so that future generations will honour and remember their selflessness?

Al Fatihah for Sjn Baharuddin.

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