Shooting police into isolation

By Frankie D’Cruz | July 31, 2013
The Malay Mail Online

JULY 31 — Amid the outpouring of widespread public spleen over public security, gun violence is running riot and fuelling the explosive tone of rising crime.

After a brutal stretch of 15 shootings since April – the most high profile involving Monday’s assassination of the founder of Arab Malaysia Bank Hussain Ahmad Najadi, you’d have expected the incidents to bring notice to an epidemic of gun crimes.

Sadly, the gun crisis hasn’t prodded the authorities to come together to contain the culture of violence and the easy availability of firearms in Malaysia.

Gun crime isn’t a new and distinct issue but the recent cases suggest that carrying of a firearm has become increasingly common place.

We speculate criminals get their guns from a neighbouring country. We theorise observable patterns to gun crime. What we know for sure is that gun crime is a sign of collapsed civil life.

We cringe when criminals rule the streets. We recoil when police officers are implicated in crime. We reel in sorrow when a whistleblower is taken out for anti-crime activism.

We then take the imperfect police-public relationship to a new level of antagonism – and the collective responsibility to fight crime takes a beating.

That’s when criminals add more firepower to their activities and their whingeing relatives swear by their ‘innocence’. in the meantime, the public suffers and remains at the mercy of criminals — and an ineffective security risk management system.

Following the execution of Najadi, the founder of Arab-Malaysian Development Bank, and the attempted murder of crime watchdog MyWatch chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan on Saturday – both in high people traffic areas – tolerance for public safety failure has dipped to an all-time low.

The usual arguments have begun while official response to gun violence has been unconvincing. The government doesn’t have a powerful ‘tool’ to check gun violence.

Failure to address gun crimes has backfired, leaving the public helpless. That is one of one of the most pressing problems involving public security we face as a nation.

I repeat what I wrote at the height of custodial deaths recently: “I detest that we know there is a familiar outline to such misfortunes. I loathe that we can accurately forecast what comes next.

“I hate that we can precisely predict the stand of the authorities. I hate that after a tiresome period of fury, we have to say ‘nothing will change’.”

Clearly, that reeks of disregard for public safety. Still, expect the theatrics to go on for a while – because nothing will change.

Will the Sanjeevan shooting in which rogue cops have been implicated be the trigger for the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)?

Putrajaya must be forced to recognise the huge damage inflicted on it by failing public security and that self-fulfilling rhetoric must be cast aside.

Senior police officers, privately furious over the recent shootings, tell me they believe unchecked gun violence signals a profound crisis for public security.

It is apparent that the police strategy to curb gun violence is lying in ruins and its notion that it enjoys public confidence in fighting crime somewhat overstated.

Recurring cases of serious crimes will further isolate the police and make it harder for them to win public support.

Whatever the future, the police force suddenly looks detached from society.

Multi-award winning journalist Frankie D’Cruz is editor of The Malay Mail. He can be reached at [email protected] or Twitter @frankieDcruz.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 10:28 am

    ///carrying of a firearm has become increasingly common place…///

    The government must act fast to stem out gun violence, lest the country walks the way of America and gets ruined by “gun culture”.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 10:34 am

    The fundamental basis of the argument for draconian law is that they believe that they can put the fear into criminals without really fundamental change in police work and system. its simply theory. Fear is not a magic weapon but an addiction in the long run..What the proponents are saying is that they have done NOTHING wrong or THEY HAVE NO RESPONSIBiLITY AT ALL FOR PAST FAILURES. Its simply they don’t want to confront the devil within and EXCUSES is so much more convenient.

    No tool is perfect and even in Singapore recently, enforcement force that is rated one of the best in the world with the best equipment and systems can buy and no one else in the world given the powers they have, they discovered failures within their very own.. Our force has been coddled and spoilt for decades, not necessary in funding, systems and equipment but certaintly with accountability and power – and yet performance has only met with excuses after excuses for decades and in the last decade or so with increasing cost of private security.

    EVEN IF IT IS TRUE DRACONIAN LAW CAN BE USEFUL & NECESSARY, our force HAVE TO EARNED IT FIRST NOW. They wasted their own public and political capital for decades. They don’t get to waste more without having to earn it first. ITS COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL – ITS BAD MANAGEMENT no different than throwing good money after bad or rewarding failures (please don’t argue its not their failure, there is really is not enough oxygen and time for such wasting).

    I believe our police force is STILL largely dedicated men and women BUT the SYSTEM IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE. IT CANNOT BE REWARDED & INDULGE ANYMORE.. It not only solves nothing, its better to live with the crime and rely on ourselves then to reward the failing system if they don’t earn our trust first.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 1:28 pm

    With more criminals now having and using guns, this could attract a similar and automatic reaction.

    Our police force might, repeat, might, now arm themselves up even more. They might also be tempted to shoot first, ask questions later.

    If so, would innocent citizens feel at ease with both sides now more likely to use firearms?

    Does our insurance policies cover death and injuries suffered as a consequence of fire-power displays?

  4. #5 by Jeffrey on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 8:28 pm

    Gun smuggling, human trafficking, illegals coming in and out of Lahad Datu – even 2 F-5E jet fighter engines could be smuggled of the country. What is surprising in Boleh land? Criminals are active. They are drawn from increasing pool of people finding crime lucrative business since opportunities for making a decent and honest living get more challenging and difficult relative to rising cost. It’s an income inequality, governance issue.

  5. #6 by Jeffrey on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Those who benefit from rent seeking out of political connections are OK, they get richer, they have to formula to leverage on communal issues to stay on top whilst the race/creed formula provides pretext for the rent seekers and the corrupt to thrive leaving the rest marginalized, talented people pushed off to migrate and replaced by growing ranks of semi skilled & foreigners to come in (Lahad Datu included) and we are left at all areas of administration with mediocre people placed there not because of merits, so how could they keep up to tackle and resolve these challenges as they arise? Having more draconian laws, blaming gun smuggling etc is merely addressing symptoms to deflect underlying causes (not admitted) – associated with governance and political ideology issues- which make criminal activities increasingly a lucrative available option.

  6. #7 by yhsiew on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 9:38 pm

    Rise in violence ‘linked to climate change’

  7. #8 by Di Shi Jiu on Friday, 2 August 2013 - 9:55 pm

    Frankie D’Cruz,

    “Will the Sanjeevan shooting … be the trigger for the setting up of the … (IPCMC)?”

    I doubt that the IPCMC will become a reality.

    The Home Minister and the Police Inspector General cannot afford to have the rot in PDRM exposed for all to see.

  8. #9 by negarawan on Saturday, 3 August 2013 - 10:33 am

    Why talk about guns? The PDRM can’t even control firecrackers. LOL!

  9. #10 by silat88 on Saturday, 3 August 2013 - 3:52 pm

    Mr Lim,

    I hand it to you for all the years you have endured putting up with the biased racist “governments”. Unlike you I left as tolerating this abusive system is beyond me.
    If we counted the brain drain of us who left not by choice, my ex-country would be ahead leaps and bounds. A country does not become developed just because 1 individual assumes it can be done with a target year.
    The same individual who is still calling the shots and trying to justify giving out IC’s to ilegals and then justifying it. Ask Sabahans how they truly feel.

  10. #11 by vsp on Sunday, 4 August 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    When the police were given wide-ranging powers to do as they like, without the scrutiny of a watchdog body (the court or some other bodies to check them), they not only become a liability to society but also a stumbling block unto themselves.

    Basically, the training of the police harked back to the days of the Emergency when they had to use draconian laws like the ISA, the OSA, the Sedition law, Printing Presses and Publications Act to do their work. Then, the police were acting for the public good. But soon they were roped in by the Mahathir regime to use these laws to go after those who opposed them. Since the end of the Emergency era (strangely, the Emergency has still not been abrogated), the training of the police had not progressed at all to deal with the requirements of a civil society. So when it comes to solving crime, they tend to use the same crude method without regard to veracity. Whether a suspect is guilty or not, he has to go through humiliations and torture (physically and mentally) of fitting into what the police would like to hear in order to be coaxed out with a confession. For those who could not bear the torture or threatened with infinite incarceration, they succumb; but for those who insist on their innocence and refused to confess, they were beaten to death. That explained why every year there were many unexplained death cases in police custody. The modus operandi of a police investigation was laid bare before the world during the trial of Anwar Ibrahim, where torture and turning-in of the victims were the staple of the police’s success in extracting confessions. All they are interested in was not the truth but to merely bolster and pad up the statistics.

    Having so much powers and given a blank cheque by the Mahathir regime to use them as they like with impunity, the police became very lazy, pompous, arrogant, corrupt, self-seeking and power crazy. Soon they became a power unto themselves. They do not have to answer for their methods and actions. They have the prerogatives, like the Attorney-General, on what to pick and choose to act on a report of crime. With this power of dispensation of life and death, the police found it very lucrative to veer into the netherworld of crime. Their liaison with crime lords had been a hot subject of conversation for years among those are in the pulse of awareness, but these were suppressed in the mainstream of society due to the power of intimidation and the use of the Sedition Act and OSA. Nevertheless, the rise of serious crime increased when the police have unfettered powers like the ISA and EO to check them. But they do not use these laws with responsibility. With an eye on the main chance of accumulating filthy lucre, they became the broker and protector of the crime lords’ empires.

    The argument that the police need more powers to tackle serious crime does not not wash with the public who are wary with a runaway train. Just a mere 3 months ago, the Home Minister and the police painted a rosy picture of how safe the country was, and the statistics were quickly drawn up to show that crimes actually reduced. But this was only a chimera for the purpose of the GE13. Now the tone was dramatically the opposite. Then just last week, there was a spate of attack and shooting and the police did nothing but to orchestrate for the clamor of more powers and laws. The sudden spurt of shooting in just one week is very suspected of the police ulterior motive.

    There are enough laws to tackle serious crime; only the police need to beef up their training on modern crime prevention and not to rely on crude methods of the emergency era. Let not the police become a goon squad of a corrupt regime but a servant of civil society. Then only will they earn the respect that they so hungrily hankered for.

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