We don’t have to tell you that hawkers are suffering through the pandemic. Many of them are losing sales due to the lessened foot traffic in hawker centres, making it harder for them to make a living.
What’s saddening is that there are people who extort these hawkers, while they’re already enduring financial difficulties.
Based on a report by Sin Chew, two hawkers from a restaurant in Kepong has RM500 extorted from them after they were accused of drug possession and trafficking.
The 21-year-old cook and his 13-year-old brother were on their way to their stall at 6.30am on 2 June, when they were allegedly stopped by three police officers on motorbikes near the Malaysian Forest Research Institute (FRIM) in Kepong.
When the officers reportedly found out that they had not obtained a letter from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), they informed them that a fine would be issued. According to the Kepong MP’s account of what happened that day, the police officers suspected them of carrying drugs, which led to them raiding the hawkers’ car and a search of their bodies, wallets and phones.
The officers then apparently proceeded to pour out 33 bowls worth of soup, the boys’ potential income for the day, onto the road in an effort to find drugs in it.
“I asked the police why they had dumped our soup, but they said they wanted to check the soup base for drugs,” the 21-year-old hawker shared.
On top of that, the officers apparently threatened the boys with fines totalling RM3,000 (RM1,500 for each of them) but reportedly asked them for RM500 for ‘tea money’ if they could not afford the fine.
The boys allegedly ended up paying the RM500 and were allowed to leave, though the damage had been done as the loss of the RM500 was not as distressing as the loss of their stew which took them five hours (and RM300 t0 RM400 in ingredients) to make.
Out of complete nervousness, the boys didn’t manage to get any details on the officers during their interaction.
On 4 June, police officers were sent to the boy’s stall to further understand their encounter and to initiate an investigation into this matter.
According to District Police Chief, ACP Beh Eng Lai, the police have yet to receive a report from any party concerning the claim that allegedly happened at 6.45 that morning, reports BERNAMA.
“The police view this claim seriously and will not hesitate to take stern action against the three officers if their false actions are discovered to be true,” he added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Kepong MP has also since urged the authorities to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Committee (IPCMC).
Hopefully, the authorities will make the right decision to establish the committee for the betterment of the community’s relationship with enforcement officers.
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comment section.