Let JB be national test case – whether can wipe ouf “fear of crime” before it spreads further

I remember when I stayed for a short stint in Johor Baru for about a year some 47 years ago, the Johor capital like other parts of the country was generally safe and secure from crime for its residents and visitors and the term ” fear of crime” never existed.

This was the position until some 20 years ago, when the law-and-order infrastructure and institutions failed to keep abreast with the rapid socio-economic developments and changes, and Johor Baru together with other metropolitan areas like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang, increasingly acquired the notoriety as “hot spots” of crime where it residents are not only victims of high crime rate but live in fear of crime.

JB outranks all the other urban centres in the country as the capital of crime where the fear of crime haunting the daily lives of its residents is most palpable like a permanent haze in the JB air.

Let JB be a national test case whether it is possible to wipe out the fear of crime which is haunting the daily life of the people of JB or the fear of crime will worsen and spread to other parts of the country with the police losing the long-term war against crime.

This will be one of the objectives of the public hearings of the Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights and Good Governance on “Fight Rising Crime” starting in Johor Baru at Tropical Inn tomorrow (Sunday, 8th July 2007 at 2.30 pm), the second public hearing at MPPJ Civics Centre, Petaling Jaya on Wednesday 11th July at 8.30 pm and the third public hearing at Jit Sin Chinese Independent Secondary School, Bukit Mertajam on Sunday, 15th July at 10 a.m.

Other police forces in the world like the New York Police Department (NYPD) have openly recognized that the “fear of crime” is a specific challenge they have to address and overcome apart from fighting crime.

Apart from fighting crime, it is also time that the Malaysian Police openly recognize that public perceptions and confidence are of paramount importance and there must be a specific police strategy to wipe out the prevalent “fear of crime” in JB and other hot-spots of crime in the country and ensure it does not become a nation-wide problem.

  1. #1 by moong cha cha II on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 3:03 pm

    i read in Malaysia Today that the underworld kingpins have connections with the police of high ranks.

    dont know if true or not ?

    but if true, then how police is to fight criminal – friends ?

    but if false reporting, why high ranking police dont sue ?

  2. #2 by shortie kiasu on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 3:07 pm

    Besides the efficiency of Police Force being called into question, there is a need to address as to why there is a general public apathy towards victims of crimes in distress?

    From many reported crimes, bystanders just standby and watch the crimes being committed in front of their eyes, or if they see some suspicious movements which will be the prelude to cimes, public generally just walk away.

  3. #3 by lauwengsan on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 3:26 pm

    My cousins are now living in JB.

    My parents once told me, when I was still young, that they had once thought of staying in JB since my father were then based in Singapore, working as a welder and my uncle was also working there. That was in the early 80s.

    They told me that the reason why they chose to stay in Ipoh, which is my hometown and also theirs, is due to the unsafe environment in JB. In mandarin, they describe JB as a “fu za” place.

    I seldom went to JB. I think I had only been that city less than ten times, and my stay each time was always a short one, as I used to plan everything to be done in one day in JB in order to reduce the possibility of falling prey in the hands of criminals.

    I remember the most daring JB trip was about 5 years ago, where I go down to the city to attend several interviews, all in one go. I remembered I bought a map and figure my way to pasir gudang, senai, skudai and JB all by myself.

    And you cannot go alone without looking after your wallet and your bags tightly. This is the kind of fear that a fresh graduate like me had to go through five years ago. I wonder if I had the courage to repeat the same especially when I was then traveling by express bus to Larkin, a place which I put the highest alert in JB. And of course, I wonder I can do that today.

    And things are becoming more serious and out of hand nowadays. Although I eventually found a job in Klang Valley, the unsecured environment in JB seems to have plagued everyone in PJ, the city that I am currently staying.

    This morning, after doing rounds of leafleting in Sea Park market on the public hearing (which will be held in Civics Centre 11th July), I went to have my breakfast in coffee shop, and there from far I saw a police car approaching from far.

    My goodness, a Watson store was robbed just half an hour ago!

    Crime situation in PJ has been so serious to this extend! On one hand we were doing leafleting in sea park, the next moment you have a shop robbed! What kind of a world are we living in? I went to speak to the people gathering outside the shop, they told me that it has been a norm in this place.

    I told them that this should not be the norm! It is the basic human rights that each and every citizen should have.

    It’s time for all of us to gather hand and deal with the problem seriously. It is not only for you and me, but for everybody in the neighborhood!

  4. #4 by Loh on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 5:03 pm

    The law and order insrastructure and institutions are the rationale for the establisment of a functioning governments, accepted and respected by the people to be serving their interest, since the days of absolute monarchy. Modern governments have taken on additionally the duties to respect the wishes of the people based on majority decision, the basis for democracy. That is social progress.

    Today Bolehstan cannot even provide the service of law and order, which were expected in the days of absolute monarchy. We are regressing into history.

  5. #5 by sean on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 5:42 pm

    There are two types of crime for the police to figure out which is which.The crime the police will fight is crime which do not line their interest and pockets.The other crime which they will “fight” is crime which will eventually line their pockets and sama sama cari makan.So…which do they wanna fight still remains a secret.

  6. #6 by Jonny on Saturday, 7 July 2007 - 10:01 pm

    The cancer has set in. Now is the beginning of the decay.

  7. #7 by ymliew on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 12:25 am

    Criminals of violent crimes will continue to terrorise the community until they die a natural death or are caught and put out of action. Also when those with a penchant for crime but still undecided will be strongly encouraged when they realise that almost nobody who breaks the law ever got caught or punished. This is the case of Johore Baru and other crime ridden cities in Malaysia.

    Criminals are just simply not caught and put out of action but instead new ones are strongly encouraged to join the bandwagon because of the impunity. Their numbers just increases expoentially.

    This is to say, the police force in place is inadequate and incapable of fullfilling their duties. The solution is really quite simple. Fire those who are responsible and are found to be lacking in their duties and replace them with better ones. I do not see how crimes can get out of hand in the city if there are gun trotting Gurkha guards in all major shopping centres, on the streets and everywhere. Is it really that expensive to get a contingent of Gurkha guards carrying machine guns on the streets of Johore Baru. Even if the government does not want to finance this I am sure the business community will come up with the money. In reality the ONLY thing that is stopping Singaporean coming over to spend their money in Johore Baru is the crime rate. If Johore is again safe it will simply boom beyond recognition because of the Singapore dollar.

  8. #8 by izrafeil on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 1:11 am

    Heavenly Tunku,
    Your Mightiness,
    So Profound and Far Reaching
    You Conquer
    Those who ought to Serve the Masses
    And our Servants elected by us
    Make Business Connections unto your Profit

  9. #9 by J85 on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 1:41 am

    Fighting the crime is definitely an utmost concern for residents staying in JB. However, recent rob and rape cases are just the tip of the ice-berg. There are still many dark sides which have yet to be revealed and solved. They may well be the ultimate cause of the increasing crime rate as compared to decades ago. I think most of us have an idea of what is the underlying cause. The problem will not be completely solved until we have the mastermind uprooted! Think about it.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 1:55 am

    Surely “JB outranks all the other urban centres in the country as the capital of crime” is not due to JB’s police being more inefficient than other parts of the country.

    Can we ameliorate the crime problem in JB or KL/PJ by pressuring the police alone to solve it by “a specific police strategy to wipe out crime?

    Can more police vigilance and operations in down town JB effectively fight crime if , for example, illegals continuously enter Johor Bharu through unguarded coastal areas of and landing grounds?

    Although police corruption and alleged complicity with the triads is one major factor behind syndicated crimes (extortion, prostitution, illegal gambling etc), there are other structural factors, to name a few:
    · statistically higher proportion of Indian underclass youths are involved in gangsterism. Displaced from plantation by foreign migrant workers they drift to urban centers in search of better commercial opportunities only to find marginalisation, low income or unemployment instead.
    · the influx of foreign workers, many of whom are illegal compound the crime problem.
    · drugs (ecstasy pills, amphetamines and chabu) and their abuse require money to support the habit.

    Can much be achieved to contain crime by pressuring police alone to step up their operations in JB or elsewhere when the root structural causes of crime are not something the government is willing to do or could do much about ?

  11. #11 by WFH on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 4:15 am

    Fear of crime – inverse relationship with Respect for PDRM.

    PDRM most work like hell, even if it kills them, to re-earn that respect first, then there could still be hope. But in the medium term, and especially currently with the PDRM at all levels intimately intertwined with the politicos of crooked intent, the task will be impossible. This inter-dependance of each to the other to protect, preserve and expand the other’s ricebowl, whatever the cost to other components of society not being themselves, MUST be broken first.

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 9:01 am

    Malaysians fear of crime is matched only by our love for and prioritization of pursuit of money above all other considerations, with disregard or blurring of the distinction between right and wrong, which in turn is one of the root causes of crimes!

    Let’s take as point of frame of reference the period of time of Mahathir’s administration – 1980 to 1994 (“period of reference”).

    I have read academic research somewhere that whilst population growth bears relation to increase of crime, it was not a proportionate increase : in period of reference, our population increased 19.8% with crime increasing 120% (70,823 reported cases in 1980 against 156,455 in 2004).

    Mahathir pushed for fast tracked industrialization, privatization and economic development. He opened the doors to influx of foreign contract semi skilled labour/migrants (esp Indonesian) who undoubtedly contributed in no small measure to bludgeoning crime statistics. It is not accurate to put entire blame on foreigners because commission of crime by locals also increased spectacularly in the period of reference. Much of it is concomitant with rural folks flooding into the towns and cities in search for employment and opportunities. This is not confined to plantation labour migrating to cities but also smaller rural towns to the cities.

    Now the following is bound to happen in this phenomenon: when they come to bigger towns/cities, parental supervision was compromised, the daily grind and humdrum of working in factories with salaries hardly in keeping with cost of living in towns/cities was relieved by youngsters learning to “lepak” on weekends and going to discos and picking up the habit of drugs from peers. Many huddled in one room flats whilst the poorer (from plantation) lived in squatter areas.

    The NEP aggressively pursued by TDM institutionalized the distribution of benefits to selected few (whether Malays or Non Malays) with political levers and patronage and cronies whilst the majority pursuing the Malaysian dream were faced with this institutional block from realising their aspiration of attaining wealth, which was the first reason they came to the towns and cities, so they readily circumvented it by anti social behaviour, where opportunities presented themselves.

    The creation of wealth in the country in this period of reference created equal aspirations for but unequal access to wealth for the majority, so being disillusioned what do you think would happen? Rob and steal from the well to do, which soon broaden to whosoever whenever opportunities present themselves.

    The majority of all races facing displacement and dislocation problems in urban centers are marginalized though by different factors and in different ways.

    In the period of reference, corruption also bludgeoned, and people placed then as they do now money as the most important factor above moral and ethical considerations…

    There’s no need to be ethical when one perceived others were not bothered and were hypocritical about it. There was this sense of impending doom in the country that was perceived sinking like titanic and the priority of the day was to make money as much and fast as possible going around laws regulations and systems.

    We’re not just talking about criminals of lower socio-economic strata : this certain lack of ethical approach broadened upwards to all, as we hear more and more of corporate chieftains rigging shares, committing CBT, falsifying accounts, auditors playing certifying accounts without proper qualifications playing cahoots with them, errant doctors having clinics everywhere to make money without proper supervision, lawyers absconding with clients moneys or fronting for corporate clients on how to siphon moneys, contractors cutting back on materials, members of just about every profession (even teachers) compromising professional standards to make the quick buck! Of course civil servants and those officials habving power – no need to say lah!

    I would say that much of what we reap today by way of crime escalation today is a direct legacy of Mahathir and his policies which were skewed to bring rapid economic development via NEP route without heed to attendant surge in corruption and deterioration of the moral/familial values – like what Pak lah said, a lot of hardware but poor software in terms of human capital, much less ethical development of the sense to distinguish right from wrong, TDM’s successor knowing the problem, but having no political will or maybe even resources to address and reverse what had happened in the period of reference under Mahathir.

    I think that getting PDRM to pull up its bootstrap and IPCMC to be a watch dog against police corruption may help but only to a limited extent because no matter how much improvement one makes to the police force, how does one tackle crime if its root causes, stemming from the social-economic depredations bequeathed by Mahathir’s era, remain unabated and not addressed and successfully grappled with?

  13. #13 by glokaltower on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 11:08 am

    The sole responsibility rest on the shoulder of the Minister in-charged. In this case: Pak Lah. Let’s change the captain now, or the water should capsize the boat.

  14. #14 by wizzerd on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 11:40 am

    Instead of cleaning up the police force, we should first start cleaning up the politicians in charge of the police force..

  15. #15 by ShiokGuy on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 11:51 am

    Whatever we read in the media (print or internet), we should always question the real motive behind them.

    Remember, No free lunch! Somehow there always be a motive behind something that we do.


  16. #16 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 1:19 pm

    And why is Johor Baru touted as crime capital of Malaysia? Sure every now and then gang rape and violence there given high profile media coverage both here and in S’pore – reinforces that impression. Besides it is a place SSingaporeans could conveniently escape on week ends the physical and emotional pressures of their tightly controlled city state to indulge in recreational pleasures and sins across the Causeway at ½ the price they pay back home. That being the case everyone assumes the ants of criminals will be drawn to where the sugar is.

    Then the issue becomes politicized further as Singaporeans express misgivings about supporting Iskandar Development Region (IDR) because of deteriorating security situation and to counter that law enforcement authorities here postulated the likelihood of Singapore triads operating in Johor (in collaboration with local criminals) as if to say, “don’t blame us when your thugs are creating havoc for our IDR in Johor”. Indeed one BN backbencher mentioned Singapore as “sending gangsters over to Johore to disrupt the development free trade zone” with Mohamad Aziz Mohamed (BN – Sri Gading) joining the debate to say, “Recently the Senior Minister in Singapore said Umno Johor is not interested in welcoming investment in IDR. This is one statement we cannot understand as our leaders have been welcoming investment from all nations, including Singapore….. But if you follow the sentiments of us Johoreans, Singapore does not want this IDR to develop. They send gangsters to spoil the image of Johor Bahru as though Johor Bahru is the hotspot for thugs and gangsters, causing people to be afraid to invest in Johor Bahru.”

    The high media profile reportage of some of JB’s crimes in both countries and the politicization of Malaysia vs Singapore rivalry and comparison against the backdrop of IDR has given JB a top spot in crime (crime capital) which it probably does not deserve. Crime is a bludgeoning problem throughout the country in all major towns and cities for the factors I said in my earlier post and bear a direct proportion to the size of the city concerned with the biggest getting the worst end of the stick.

    Statistical wise, whilst Johore is crime prone with 24,945 reported cases in 2005, 28,469 in 2006 and 3,524 in last January and February, Selangor came out first with 47,499 reported cases in 2005, 54,270 in 2006 and 6,771 in January and February this year (with Penang trailing third with 12,407, 16,229 and 3,822 cases) respectively.

    So the ‘honour’ of crime capital of the country surely must be taken from JB and bestowed upon the connected cities of Kuala Lumpur/Petaling Jaya in which the most bizarre crimes and deaths occurred!

    It is in the capital city that we have the spectacular Canny Ong’s abduction and murder under uncanny circumstances; Noritta binti Samsuddin’s unexplained death by asphyxia under conditions that women groups chastised the media for reporting; the strange incident in SS2 PJ where the victim lulled her abductor by a suggestion of “riding him” and escaped in that process – and of course the dramatic killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu with C4 explosives.

    Malaysia has reached a state where strange crimes against self are also committed in smaller towns. In small town of lumut, 41-year-old Th’ng Boon Siang died on May 29 2003. Th’ng’s family believed he was murdered because he was found with his neck and feet tied with nylon and raffia string. His hands were also bound.

    According to Pathologist Dr Mohammad Shafie Othman @ Osman who testified in court last month, actually Th’ng was believed to have tied the string around his own neck and feet while the string was only wrapped and not knotted around his wrists while performing auto-erotic asphyxiation and died a probably orgasmic death!

  17. #17 by k1980 on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 2:37 pm

    “There is very little faith in Pak Lah (Badawi) and the feel good-factor has long dissipated,” one observer said. “Parliament debates this or that and the fact is that Badawi is never around, always overseas.”


  18. #18 by NextNoName on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 7:22 pm

    You can tap a pulse of a city by going to one of its police stations in heavily populated area. You would likely see an unceasing stream of people coming in to report crime whether it was day or night. Each person would tell you a story that just happened a while ago. I suggest MPs do that for a while and report what they saw if the crime situation still do not improve.

    While in economy and education are the root causes and solutions, the police has to take the biggest responsibility.

  19. #19 by yellowkingdom on Sunday, 8 July 2007 - 10:18 pm

    Kudos! YB Lim for a well-run Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights and Good Governance. Thank you for a passionate and stirring opening address in the conspicuous absence of the Chairman, YB Nazri.(who arrived late, albeit at 4.40pm. Note : Session was from 2.30 to 5.00pm). YB Wan Azizah spoke on the need for a holistic approach to fighting crime from all facets. YB Wong Nai Chee could have done more instead of just rhetorics on non-partisan efforts in information gathering. YB Chong Eng reminded everyone present about the occasions of her visits. Mr Vikneswary, parliamentary secretary for Youth and Sports arrived a little after the session started.

    The public hearing got off to a great start with an elderly gentleman professing his deep love for Malaysia and reminding everyone regardless of race to fight for our fundamental rights to personal safety and freedom. The session then took a turn with some grievances raised on issues about police inaction or inefficiencies in bringing to justice of murder, robberies and other crimes due to lack of evidence. E.g. The recent case last Friday at Taman Perling, where Mr Kulaisingam’s house was robbed by 3 Indian robbers but was stopped by 3 police officers who arrived at his house in time. Unfortunately, the police officers released the robbers when they pleaded for leniency. This left Mr Kulaisingam flabbergasted as to why they were not arrested and brought to the police station. They were caught red-handed! All 3 police officers were apparently young in age.
    A point was raised as to why the Johor Police Chief or its representative was not present for such an important public hearing on “Fight Rising Crime”.
    A participant asked the ‘terms of reference’ of the panel. He stated that back in 1st. April, 2004, at a public enquiry he had addressed former IGP Tan Sri Hanif, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and other high calibre officials but his issue has come to naught. He again raised the source of rising crime in JB is due to collusion between politicians, police and the crime gangs. When queried for evidence by YB Wong, he retorted that as a tax payor, the police and ACA are responsible to investigate the case.
    Another participant raised the issue of squatter houses in many areas in the city that was left unchecked by the authorities or worse still under the ‘protection’ of enforcement officers, who collect fees. He also alleges that a nightclub operating in Taman Iskandar under police protection belonging to a certain royal, known to the public.
    A resident from out-of-town residing less than a year in JB said that his wife was a snatch-theft victim at the Tamn Johor Jaya wet market. A month later, his daughter was robbed of her Kancil car right in front of their house by two Mat Rempits with parangs. The car was later recovered by police two months at Taman Molek. When queried the police claim that it was the work of youths between age 16 and 22, who need RM600 to RM800 daily to feed their drug habits.

    From the above, its is evident that crime in JB has not abated nor is under control, contrary to claims by the Police.

    I leave it to the Parliamentary caucus to present their findings.

  20. #20 by ymliew on Monday, 9 July 2007 - 1:06 am

    It is not fair to lay all the blame on the former Mahathir administration or accuse Pak Lah for all the dysfunction and inadequacy of the police force leading on to the mayhem in our cities. Nor do I think it is mainly the ills of urbanisation. For instance look at Singapore and the cities of China with their massive immigration of illiterates from the countryside. Take a walk along little India in Singapore where waves and waves of poorer Indian immigrants gather to laze their time away. These places are still relatively safe. It does amaze me how the majority of criminals be them robbers, rapist or murderers get caught within HOURS of commiting the crime in Singapore. Sure, it is a small place and they have nowhere to hide but I think credit should be given to the effectiveness of their police force and intelligence gathering. To be fair, Singapore’s immigration policies are rather effective in preventing potential trouble makers from coming into their country.

    My feeling is if we have bright and energetic people with the right aptitude and dedication in the appropriate positions to fight crime, we would never have to endure this problem. Unfortunately, the countries’ affirmative policies and racial hangouts have drastically reduce the number of suitable candidates for the jobs. The brain drain that came about as a side effect of these policies has taken place for generations and has insiduous but surely rob the country of its most important human resource, the very able. With it goes it dynamism and vitality. That is why our universities ratings are crashing, our institutions are failing, our state companies are going bankrupt, our schools are drowning and of course our social order and law enforcement follow the same trend.

    It is such a waste. Nature or perhaps the Gaussiaans curves provides a population with only a small percentage of the very able. Our affirmative policies and gobalisation have done a tremendous job in pushing and pulling away a large number from this group. Once they are gone they are usually gone forever. No,black gold isn’t our country’s most precious capital. Our talented people is. Without them we stand no change against the onslaught of the Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Eastern Europe, South America and Russian developing economies not to mentioned the developed once. We are but sitting ducks or culture mediums waiting to be discarded – when we have spent our use and welcome and that I would believe is sooner when we would like to think.

  21. #21 by Leo on Monday, 9 July 2007 - 11:10 am

    YB Lim, I need to suggest that if your party intend to make a difference. Do get your members to do crime prevention or crime awareness campaign in JB and around the country. At least the public are fully aware that your party who cares for them and they would vote for to make a difference.

    I would salute your for your boldness to face so many BN guys but there’s a limit what 1 person can do. Therefore do get your grassroot people to organise road shows (if allowed that is) or print leaflet (chinese, tamil and BM), to reach the masses of people. Doing this you are actually hitting 2 birds with 1 stone. 1. To address the issue of crime in the country. 2. Showed to the public that your party cares. Frankly, your party presence are not felt in JB. Maybe its not your “area”. However if a party shows that they care. I believe the public can gradually accept.

    One last note, the crime in JB is real. No matter if you are at shopping complexes, on the street even at the comfort of your own home. You always have fear that you will become a victim of crime.

  22. #22 by ymliew on Monday, 9 July 2007 - 10:36 pm

    Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore said that when he felt that the police force were not strong enough to deal with the deadly and vicious criminals in his country he engaged the army. It was just a matter of months before all the druglords, the rapist cum robbers, murderers and mafia heads were rounded up and seldom heard of again. Since the ISA has given such a bad name to the country, may as well make us of it. Why bother to talk terms and search for evidence to convict these scums of society.

    Thaksin did even better. Look at the way he cleaned up drugs in Bangkok. Many believed that his death squad simply go around ‘demolishing’ the ubiquitous mafia and drug traffickers. The streets were almost cleansed within a few months. This is what I call effectiveness.

    Compare these to the puny police force in JB. Even when they manage to catch the thieves, they let them go out of perhaps sympathy. I wonder when these wretched criminals were in the process of gang raping women in front their boyfriend they were sympathetic or not to their victims plea for mercy.

    Oh come off it. There is ony one answer to criminals. The use of deadly force is inevitable because it is the only language they understand. There can be no other way.

  23. #23 by shortie kiasu on Wednesday, 11 July 2007 - 8:47 pm

    “The first Parliamentary Caucus hearing in JB has given a clear verdict that the situation of crime and fear of crime in JB remains very grave and critical, and this must be taken fully into account by the police authorities.” LKT

    It is a slap in the face of the Police, the IGP, the Police top brass, the Internal Security Minister, the Deputy IS Minister.

    What has they got to say to cover up their inaction, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, lackadaisical attitudes as a whole?

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