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Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting angry, irritated with journalists never pays – J.D. Lovrenciear

Image result for IGP Khalid and PressImage result for Star, NST, Utusan, Bernama

If it is true – in any case, it must be otherwise the news media would not risk quoting in inverted commas – that when journalists persistently kept asking the same or similar questions pertaining to the discovery of mass graves on Malaysian soil, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) snapped at them, then this is not going to help the IGP.
It is not going give any iota of saving grace to the police force, and it will rebound without mercy when the whole truth is unearthed to the full.
Leaders must learn and master the golden principle of media relations, i.e. while the public have a right to know, the media operates on the principle of "a categorical duty to inform" the public.
A trained journalist on the beat learns how to think and see things through the lens of the readers/viewers of the media they work for.
They ask questions not for their own nosy business but because of their on-the-job SOP that hinges on that crucial obligation of "duty to inform" their seeking readers.
So when the leaders of institutions – in this case the IGP of Malaysia snaps back at the media, he is indeed also insulting the public and will be perceived by the public to be hiding the truth – even if he is not.
Now, coming back to the reported answers that the chief of Malaysian police shot back to the media, it certainly provokes the public to start asking more common sense questions to the extent of even going the distance of holding the police force accountable for their total actions and inactions.
Among the common sense thinking that you witness being exchanged at the market place of social-conversation is: Why our border patrol police units are unable to know what is happening even before others outside or within the country get to the crimes?
If the police chief claims that the place is extremely difficult and challenging to reach, then how come the perpetrators of this most heinous crime could get to these "inaccessible" places so easily and carry out the hundreds of killings and digging the massive graves as well? Certainly all these could not have been done over 24 hours or even within days on count!
The police chief must understand, appreciate and accept with a deep sense of humbling responsibility that when such gruesome crimes against humanity are unearthed, and especially in peace times, the public will not stop looking for satisfactory, widely-acceptable answers from the authorities to begin with.
If there has been an omission of duty or dereliction of responsibility, it is wiser to admit at the earliest stage.
When a leader fails to shoulder that onerous task of taking personal responsibility for a huge and unprecedented crime that has taken place right under the nose of the border patrol police, it opens up an even much bigger spectrum of putting two and two together that will only eventually sledgehammer the image of the entire Malaysian police force.
Taking action on a few cops-on-the-job will only buy very temporary respite. And it will shortly after catapult to graver damage.
That is why in many other nations around the world we find that the captains or leaders are the first to take total responsibility, resign and thereby achieve two goods for their nations.
One, they save the reputation of the country and enable effective damage control measures to safeguard the very institution they lead; and two, it paves the way for right action to follow without any hindrances, either perceived or real.
Hopefully, the IGP will get to read this letter of good counsel given without asking and coming from a deep sense of duty to support all the men and women in blue who remain dedicated to serving the nation.
* J.D. Lovrenciear reads The Malaysian Insider.

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