Sunday, June 23, 2013

EO Repeal Not An Excuse for Rising Crime


In recent weeks, we have heard various police officers at the local level explaining to residents that one of the key reasons for the increasing rate of crime is because of the repeal of the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance in September 2011.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that Senior Federal police officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity claimed preventive laws such as the Restricted Residence Act (RRA) 1933 had been useful against hardcore criminals and syndicate kingpins.

This isn’t the first time the Police are laying the blame on the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance and the RRA as the causes for rising spate of crime.

In June 2012, Selangor’s deputy police chief, Datuk A Thaiveegan suggested the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) may have caused a hike in the state’s crime rate due to the number of suspects who could have returned to a life of felony instead of reforming.  He told Malaysiakini that “…we see there is a rise in crime (recently) because they’ve been in (detention) for too long, they need ‘exercise’, so they come out and immediately they carry out their activities”.  He did admit that he was only speculating by providing the caveat that he “can’t confirm yet (because of the EO)”.

However now, the police appear to be pleading helplessness in the fight against crime.  The sources told The Malaysian Insider, "we do not just randomly pick people off the streets and put them into detention centres. Police also gather information and statements from witnesses and verify them… But now that the government has done away with preventive laws, it is very difficult to fight these criminals with one hand tied behind our backs."

If the Police are indeed able to gather the necessary “information and statements from witnesses and verify them”, then why is it that they are not able to prosecute them in court and send them to jail?

This is a shocking state of affair because are the Police telling us that if they are unable to jail suspects without trial, then they are unable to fight crime in the country?  Are the police claiming to be so incompetent that they are unable to investigate with all required evidence to bring these alleged criminals to court and make them pay for their crimes via the rule of law?

In that case, we might as well dispense with the Court of Law altogether since the Police and the Attorney-General will find it easier to send these alleged criminals to jail and detention without trial.

In the safe cities of Hong Kong, Tokyo, London or even Singapore, none of these countries utilise “detention without trial” to keep crime low or negligible.  Their criminal investigation departments are able to detain and prosecute these criminals for the crimes they have committed with the necessary investigation and evidence.  Why is it that the Malaysian police are unable to do the same?  Are the police claiming that Malaysian criminals are more intelligent and more organised in their activities to avoid detection and prosecution?

The Malaysian Police has failed to concede that the real reason behind the weaknesses in fighting crime is the sheer misallocation of resources within the force.  Over the past 8 years, the criminal investigation department (CID) comprises barely 9% of the police force. In stark contrast, 41% of uniformed police perform management functions, while 31% are tasked with internal security and public order such as the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), the Light Strike Force as well as the General Operations Force.

Even the Special Branch of the police has nearly the same number of personnel as the CID.  In fact the Budget figures in 2010 showed that the police produced 733,237 reports and security checks by the Special Branch, but only 211,645 criminal investigation papers. So Special Branch produced more than three times as many reports as the CID.

The 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Report has recommended about 20,000 uniformed personnel or 22% of the force could be reassigned to go back to active core policing work. Unfortunately this recommendation was never taken seriously by the Home Ministry.

The Home Ministry and the Malaysian police must stop giving excuses to the rising spate of crime.  It must accept the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry carried out 8 years ago, and implement all the necessary measures to improve the effectiveness and professionalism of the police force.  The failure to do so will only see crime persist at high and increasing levels, making Malaysia unsafe not only for its citizens, but also as a conducive country of business and investment.
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