Some time back in 2015, I walked down to the train station after having a late meal in Bangsar. It was almost an hour to midnight and I did not want to miss the last train home. It usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the Bangsar train station from Jalan Telawi by foot, and the train stops running close to midnight.

I remember jaywalking across Jalan Maarof and then strolling down to near the bottom of the street, before turning into the slip road into a smaller and less busy Lorong Maarof.

It was there where I saw two officers, one standing and another sitting on his motorcycle, interrogating what seemed to be a migrant worker by the road. The worker was of South Asian origin, I think.

It was somewhat dark in the area. The road was lit with orange light, making the night felt quiet and lonely. There is something about orange light emitted from fluorescent lamp. It makes a street feels mysterious, if not sinister. The sound of cars zooming by, speeding beyond the speed limits, made the atmosphere all the more isolating. Nobody on the main road would care or notice anything if something happened.

I walked closer toward the three men while wishing I was already in my bed. I had to walk pass them to get to the train station. It was the shortest distance available to me.

I was tired, but my eyes were fixed on the three. But the fact that there were two police officers and a migrant worker there did not quite register in my mind. I observed with my senses, but my mind saw nothing. My mind was that absent security officer snoozing at night in front of the countless screens in the central CCTV room. The cameras were recording, but nobody was watching.

The officers did not notice me, until I was right next to them. They were startled by the sound of my footsteps. There was almost fear in their eyes, in contrast to the South Asian person’s blank expression.

I did not comprehend what was going on but I noticed an officer was forcing his hand into the Bangladeshi’s pants pocket, taking out a wallet. I had a sense that that was inappropriate.

I understand everything now in retrospection. If you asked me what was the expression on the Bangladeshi’s face, I now would be tempted to claim that it was an expression of resignation. It was an expression that said, tonight, I was being unlucky.

I looked at the officers, but I walked on as my mind slipped further into some of kind delirium. I was a zombie, for all I care. I was both aware and unaware at the same time.

That was until the bright white light at the train station jolted my mind out of its slumbering state. Already used to the low energy orange light, the eyes screamed in pain while adjusting to the high-frequency, high-energy LED white light. The announcement blaring through the PA system made a good alarm clock, even as apart of me felt that I wanted to disobey its instruction.

By the time I boarded the train and was zooming across Kuala Lumpur, I was fully awake. White light filled the largely empty two-car carriage. I wish they had dimmed the lights.

The train runs on a viaduct from Bangsar to just after the Central Market in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Then it dives into a long dark tunnel, making repetitive whooshing sound as the train compresses the air against the concrete wall of the tube. It was at that moment, as train rushed underneath the city that I began to consider things that I saw.

It did not take long for me to suspect that the two officers were extorting the migrant workers for money. I have no proof of it happening, except for my memory and suspicion.

I am telling this story today because yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Home Minister in charge of the police, said that “Amalan mengutip ‘duit pau’ untuk perlindungan dalam kalangan agensi penguat kuasa sudah lama berlalu.” In Malay, in short, the police does not do extortion, anymore.[1]

Anymore, he said. Should I believe him?

Back in the train, I was filled with regrets, asking myself what if I had stopped and asked questions to the officers. I asked, if I had realized it earlier there and then, what would I do? Would I do what was right? I remember wondering, the degree of corruption in our society.

The train emerged from the tunnel just before the Ampang Park station. The swooshing sound was replaced with a cool humming.

It was dark outside. It was midnight, and I was leaving the last train.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reservedMohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reservedMohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[4] Amalan mengutip ‘duit pau’ atau habuan untuk perlindungan dalam kalangan agensi penguat kuasa sudah lama berlalu, kata Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Bagaimanapun, Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, gejala rasuah itu masih menular kononnya menanggung perbelanjaan ‘meraikan’ pegawai atasan yang turun melawat anggota bawahan, khususnya di peringkat daerah. “Ini alasan tidak cerdik kerana bercanggah dengan pendirian anggota penguat kuasa yang diberi amanah untuk memikul tanggungjawab melindungi negara dan masyarakat. “Tindakan pegawai atasan membuli anggota bawahan juga perlu dihentikan kerana amalan ini menjurus kepada perlakuan menghalalkan rasuah dalam kalangan unit beruniform. [Mohd Iskandar Ibrahim. Farah Mashita Abdul Patah. Luqman Arif Abdul Karim. Ahmad Suhael Adnan. Era polis ‘pau’ duit perlindungan sudah berlalu – Zahid. Berita Harian. May 21 2017]

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