Police Updates on Facebook?

Commenting on the Chief Police Officer of Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar, posting investigation initiatives on his Facebook profile.

The recent death of Permatang state assemblyman Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohd Noh, and his former personal assistant, Siti Rohana Ismat, though fascinating for the tantalizing possibilities its factual scenario allows for speculation is also interesting because news of it spread due to a posting by the Chief Police Officer of the Selangor State, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar, on his Facebook profile. It appeared that for a while Datuk Khalid was posting updates on the investigation.

Screenshot of the facebook posting (Source: Malay Mail)

Screenshot of the facebook posting (Source: Malay Mail)

A 3 August 2010 news report from Malaysiakini reported the following:

Khalid had initially denied on his Facebook page that Abdul Aziz was shot, calling it a rumour.

However, he Khalid issued another post on his Facebook page an hour later confirming that Abdul Aziz and his aide had indeed been shot.

“Please don’t speculate (on the case). Witnesses interviewed at the scene confirmed there were nobody else in the car,” wrote Khalid again on Facebook, at approximately 3.45pm.

In another Facebook posting at approximately 5.50pm, Khalid said that the preliminary autopsy report suggest that Abdul Aziz sustained two gunshot wounds while the aide sustained one.

“There are two bullets inside the chamber while there were three spent casings inside the chambers,” wrote Khalid.

However, at 7.15pm Khalid made a second correction in his Facebook. He said the woman had two gunshot wounds while Abdul Aziz had one.

The bodies were sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital for post-mortem.

My concern is quite simple really: What the hell is the Chief Police Officer of Selangor broadcasting results of the investigation on his Facebook profile? Is this now a legitimate forum from which the general public can meaningfully seek updates on their respective cases? Was this just some cheap publicity stunt by Datuk Khalid to show how hip to technology he is? Or is this some insidious method to boost the number of his friends on his Facebook profile?

Surely there must be some standard operating procedure about how investigations are to be reported in the media. I am fairly certain that it contains nothing about Facebook updates.

Now let us consider the quoted report closer.

We can now appreciate that Datuk Khalid’s first post was completely wrong. Instead of shutting up when he could not verify the facts, he posted on his Facebook and said it was a rumour. An hour later, he confirms that both were shot thus again proving that in Malaysia, rumours are truths unconfirmed by the establishment. Early in the morning, I suppose to show he’s doing work and not playing Facebook games, he tells us all not to speculate and then gives us sufficient details of the facts to assist us into a speculative overdrive.

Again at about 5.50pm he posts unverified information regarding the gunshot wounds. Then about an hour and a half later he corrects the unverified information.

Then on 4 August 2010, Malaysiakini reports him as saying that police would take about a week to prepare their report on the death. So what were those sporadic ejaculatory updates all about if the final report would only be out a week later? The report states this: ‘Khalid also said that in the urgency to complete their report, police need to be mindful of the emotional state of the families of both victims.‘ So was spreading incorrect information on his Facebook profile a virtuouso display of being ‘mindful of the emotional state of the families of both victims’?

Having thought over the events, I cannot fathom what Datuk Khalid tried to achieve with such unprecedented behaviour. What is surprising is that his initial information tends to be suspect (pun intended thanks) and he seems a little too keen to post about issues under investigation. Since when have our police been so forthcoming with the course or fruits of their investigations? Never, in my paltry experience.

Datuk Khalid should try to behave like a prudent and proper law enforcement officer. Do not speculate or spread rumours. Do not spread disinformation because correcting it later may not necessarily correct perceptions formed earlier. And above all only disclose information that has been verified. But really, he should be keeping quiet for the most part and simply disclose the results of the investigation when it is completed as much as possible.

If the Chief Police Officer of one the most progressive states in Malaysia cannot differentiate private means of communication from his official ones, it does provoke one to ponder where else the failure to differentiate between private and official realms may occur for men of such awesome power.

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Fahri Azzat practices the dark arts of the law. Although he enjoys writing and reading, he doesn't enjoy writing his own little biographies of himself. Like this one. He wished somebody else would do it for him. He has little taste in writing about himself in third person. He feels weird doing it. But the part he finds most tedious is having to pad up the lack of his accomplishments, or share some interesting facts about his rather uneventful life, as if there were some who found that oh-so-interesting; as if he were some famous person, like Michael Jackson. When he writes these biographies, the thought, 'Wei, Jangan Perasaan- ah!' lights up in his head. So he usually just lists what he got involved with, positions he held and blah, blah. But this time. Right here. Right this very moment. Uhuh. This one. This one right here. He's finally telling it like it is.

Posted on 18 August 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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