Monday, July 01, 2013

Stop Procrastinating, Reform the Police

First of all, I would like to express my commiseration to Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin whose house in Bukit Damansara was burglared in broad daylight over the weekend.  My own terrace house had been burglared twice in 2009 and 2010, which was a reason why my family moved into an apartment which has 24 hours security in 2011.

No one, whether a Minister, politician, whether from Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional, or any man on the street, should be subjected to the trauma of crime in this country. We are thankful that in this instance, no one was injured in the incident. The above, and many other crime incidents in recent months occuring to VIPS, including family members of  other ministers and senior police officers proved that crime is not mere perception in Malaysia. If Minister’s and senior police officers are not safe from crime, then how can the ordinary city folks even sleep in peace?

Khairy himself has accepted as such in his Facebook comment yesterday evening on the incident. He wrote that "Insiden ini adalah peringatan kepada kita semua bahawa jenayah merupakan masalah serius di negara kita. Masalah ini adalah perkara yang nyata, bukan semata-mata persepsi."

The threat of crime has forced the man on the street to take matters into their own hands by setting up "illegal" boom gates and access barriers as well as forking out millions of Ringgit every year to employ security guards to protect themselves. Therefore these acts of barricading their housing estates into war zones are certainly not acts of wanting to "live in exclusivity" as alleged by Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Member of Parliament for Kota Belud previously in Parliament.

There is no question that crime statistics over the past years have been manipulated to give Malaysians a false perception of security. The government claims that street crimes have been reduced by 40% in recent years while the crime index has fallen by 25% from 2007 to 2011. What the government has attempted to hide from Malaysians was that non-index crime index have over the same period increased by a whopping 69%!

The most incredulous of the BN Government claims must be that Malaysia is the safest country in Southeast Asia, even safer than Singapore, and some say, Hong Kong and Japan.

We must stop lying to ourselves and the Government must start admitting the severity of crime in the country.  Only and unless the Government and the police are willing to accept that fact, there will be no sense of urgency among the authorities to make things better.  What we will get instead is excuses by the police force and even Pemandu itself, that the repeal of Emergency Ordinance to keep suspects under 2 year detentions have caused an increase in crime.

The Malaysian Police must 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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