One of the more exciting aspects of the job of the enforcement officers of JAIS is to catch Muslim couples committing pre-marital sex or adultery. These episodes usually involve night time raids and kicking down doors to catch wrongdoers in the act. Some years ago in one of the states up north, a group of Islamic enforcement officers raided a house where a Muslim man was carrying on a liaison with a Muslim woman whom he was not married to. As in previous raids, the enforcers burst into the room surprising the couple. Unfortunately, the man happened to be a policer officer. He pulled out his service revolver and promptly shot the first enforcer he saw. The poor enforcer died and the police officer was charged with two crimes, khalwat and murder (or manslaughter). Since then, JAIS raids have been carried out in the presence of police officers although the raiding and arresting would be carried out by JAIS. The Police are there to watch and make sure that these guys don’t get shot again.
Of course, there was no such danger to the JAIS enforcers when they raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) on January 2, 2014.
By 2.45 pm, everyone from JAIS had left the Damansara Utama Police Station leaving Sinclair Wong and me with a handful of police constables who were probably perplexed as to what was going on. They definitely had never seen JAIS drag in non-Muslims. The number of reporters who came to interview us grew and very soon a little press conference was developing. Sinclar and I were seated on a sofa just in front of the station door. BSM’s General Secretary, Rev Simon Wong, had joined us to serve as our bailor. A police constable had earlier told us that we had to wait for the inspector in charge of bail to come back before we could be released on bail.
Our press conference was going on peacefully until some camera men came in with large video cameras on rather large tripods. About 2 of them started filming. It was at this stage that the police constables must have felt an invasion of their territory.
One of them shouted at the cameramen, “Oi, tak boleh ambil gambar. Keluar! Keluar!” (Hey, cannot take pictures. Get out! Get out!)
As the policemen pushed one camera man out, another one slipped in. In a display of resourcefulness, the policemen must have thought that if they can’t get rid of the press, they could try to isolate us from them.
One of them came and spoke to us in the most deferential of tones, “Encik, sini sangat panas, lah. Saya bawa encik ke pejabat kami. Boleh duduk di sana. Ada air-con juga.” (Sir, it’s very hot here. Let me take you to our office. You can sit there. There’s air-conditioning there).
Being arrested persons, we will follow the dictates of those who have custody of our bodies. So, we followed a policeman who lead us out through the back of the station house. We walked across an open space to another building and was ushered into a room at the ground floor. As we entered, the stench of cigarette smoke and body odour hit our nostrils. The policeman pointed to a sofa and invited us to sit.
I stood motionless in the room for a moment. Then I said to the policeman in Malay, “I am not going to sit in this room. It stinks. I have a lung problem and I cannot tolerate cigarette smoke.” Immediately, the policeman took us out and led us to an open space between 2 buildings where a tarpaulin shade was erected. There was a collapsible table and some chairs piled up on top of each other. It was obvious that this was left over from a New Year’s party the day before. The policeman apologised that there was no fan here but I told him its all right and that I’d rather sit there than inside.
The station house was about 50 metres from were we were. The reporters outside the station house saw us take our seats under the shade and started walking toward us. Three policemen formed a line and stopped them from coming near us and chased them back to the station house.
Very soon, some well dressed individuals were allowed past the police line and came to join us. They were Members of Parliament and Selangor State Assemblymen from the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
By about 4.15 pm, we were told that the bail officer had returned and that our bail papers could now be signed. We went back to the station house and were shown the way into a very small room were a young malay police inspector was seated. Sinclair and I signed our respective bail bonds and Simon signed as our bailor. Then the inspector tore out one copy from the book and gave a copy to Sinclair and me.
I looked at my copy and told the inspector that the bail bond did not say where I should go next. This is where an explanation about bail bonds is in order. When someone is arrested, the police can detain him for 24 hours. After that, the police must take that person to court and obtain a magistrate’s order to hold him for a further period of up to 14 days. During the period of detention, the police will carry out investigations to determine whether an offence has been committed. At the end of the remand period, the police must release the arrested person. However, as happens very often, the police can release the person earlier on bail. Someone has to act as bailor to guarantee that the released person will turn up in court to answer charges. Thus, the bail bond is a document issued by the police that says that they person is released and that he is to appear on a certain date at a specified court to answer charges.
The bail bond issued to Sinclair and I stated that we are to appear on January 10, 2014 but the column that is supposed to say which court we are to appear is left blank. I showed the inspector the bail bond that he had just issued to me and asked him, “Pada 10 Januari, saya mesti pergi ke mana?” (On 10 January, where am I supposed to go to?”)
He looked at the document for a while and said “Errr …..”
Then I said, “Borang ini kata mahkamah. Saya mesti pergi ke mahkamah apa?” (This form mentions a court. Which court am I supposed to go to?)
Scratching his head, again the inspector said, “Errr ….”
“Mahkamah Shah Alam, kah?” (Shah Alam Court?), I volunteered.
“Ah, ya .. ya! Mahkamah Shah Alam” (Ah, yes, yes, Shah Alam Court), he answered.
“Betul, kah?” (Is that right?), I said.
Then the poor inspector stared at the blank space in the document. Finally, he answered, “You pergi ke pejabat JAIS dan jumpa mereka dulu” (You go to JAIS office and see them first).
“Selepas itu, saya pergi ke mana? Mahkamah Shah Alam?” (After that, where should I go? Shah Alam court?) I queried him again.
“Ya, ya, Mahkamah Shah Alam” (Yes, yes, Shah Alam court).
“Tapi ini tidak kata Makhamah Shah Alam” (But this does not say Shah Alam court) I pressed him further.
“Saya tak tahu. You pergi jumpa JAIS dan minta mereka, lah” (I don’t know. You go to see JAIS and ask them), answered the inspector.
Having had my fun with him, I decided that its time to let him go. At 4.30 pm, we walked out of the Damansara Utama Police Station to the crowd of waiting reporters.