Monday, March 26, 2012


By Mansor Puteh

An Indian friend of mine was arrested simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

He sat in a restaurant in Pudu where the police was trying to nab some Indian gangsters.

When they noticed plainclothes policemen approaching them, they started to run away including my friend who ran in the back lane.

The problem is they did not know who the plainclothes policemen were because all of them thought they were thugs.

Even when my friend was accosted in the back lane he tried to go away from them as he feared being robbed by thieves.

The policemen did not identify themselves, so it was not anyone's fault for thinking that they were indeed thugs.

Of course, those who were not Indians were spared as they were not their targets that day.

He was later apprehended and brought to the police station where he was made to confess to being in the gang.

The strange part is that he did not know anyone of those who were also detained there, and they also did not know him. He happened to live nearby so the restaurant was his favorite joint.

He was banished to Cameron Highlands where he worked as a waiter in a restaurant for two years, to fend for himself.

In the last few days of his two-year banishment period, he took a taxi to return to his rented room.

However, the taxi strayed just slightly out of the two-kilometer radius of his banishment area, and sure enough a policeman happened to be there, like he knew the taxi was taking him.

It also looked as though the taxi-driver and the policeman had pre-planned to nab my friend again.

And sure enough, this Indian man was detained for straying beyond the banishment area, although it was no fault of his to be out of the area as he was no there on his own accord but by the doing of the taxi-driver.

He was sent to Pulau Jerejak in Pulau Pinang for two more years, and was later released.

His only crime was that he had gone to a restaurant for a drink on the morning of a raid on a group of Indian gangsters.

Therefore, to those who assume anyone who had been banished had done anything criminal he is wrong; there are those who were banished for no reason at all.

The best part of all, which he told me was how there was an Indian man who seemed to be scared and of the ‘soft’ type, when he first got to Pulau Jerejak.

Yet, when he was there, he toughened up and with the contacts he managed to get with the others who were also criminals and gangsters, he became a leader.

So when he was released he operated his own gang.

That was how someone who was picked up from the street or restaurant as in this case, and who was soft, could graduate to become a full-fledge gang leader, courtesy of the time he was banished and spent in Pulau Jerejak.

Is this truth of fiction? Is this something plausible and it could happen?

So was it not good for the Banishment Act be repealed so that those who were never in the world of crimes could remain outside of it, without some of them being pushed to the extreme that they had no alternative left to go to the other side of the law when they were finally released from detention.

Of course, there were many who were arrested and detained and banished who deserved to get the treatment, as they were not the meek or those with soft disposition, who could escape the law because they were smart.

Some of them had mended their ways when they were banished and later sent to detention camps.

Few even reverted to Islam, after so much reflection, so they could take themselves away from the life of crime to lead a normal life which they could never achieve if left to their own device.

So it was this type of people who needed the act.  

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