Crime is Up, Cops are Down

By Kee Thuan Chye | Tue, 30 Jul 2013 16:30:00 GMT
MSN Malaysia

Hineous crimes such as the recent murder of Hussain Ahmad Najadi makes us think that the police are getting less and less efficient at curbing crime. In fact, the crime rate seems to be going up and up, but until lately, the Government was denying it.

ay after day, we keep getting reports of break-ins, muggings and robberies. Even of diners at popular restaurants falling victim to marauding gangs.

All this makes us think that the police are getting less and less efficient at curbing crime. In fact, the crime rate seems to be going up and up, but until lately, the Government was denying it.

In June 2012, the then home minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said the crime rate was going down, and that if people thought it was going up instead, it was merely their “perception”. He was lambasted for his condescending comment.

One month later, the Government got its Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) to come out with statistics claiming that the crime index had dropped by 10 per cent for the first half of 2012, along with an 11 per cent reduction in 2011. It also reported a striking 39.7 per cent drop in street crime.

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But when anonymous and former police officers and the Malaysian Crime Watch Task Force (MyWatch) alleged that the Government had been manipulating the figures, Hishammuddin said in January 2013 that the crime index was not important – because numbers could be “disputed and belittled”. He reiterated that the Government had truly succeeded in cutting down crime.

The turning point – or so it felt like one – came when in late June 2013, the home of Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, got broken into. Then suddenly, it seemed as if the truth had hit home. KL wasn’t so safe after all. Maybe because it had happened to someone in government.

Khairy himself remarked, “This incident is a reminder to us all that crime is a serious problem in our country. It is a real issue and not just merely a perception.”

Several days later, the new home minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, actually said the crime rate was increasing, but he blamed it on the absence of the Emergency Ordinance (EO), which was repealed last year. He said this took away the powers of the police to detain without trial anyone suspected of engaging in crime or gangsterism. And that the repeal also allowed ex-detainees to be freed and to return to their lives of crime.

This was a poor excuse for police incompetence. About 2,600 detainees were released, but would all of them have returned to crime? Unfortunately, the minister provided no statistics or evidence to back up his claim, so it remains mere speculation. And speculation cannot be enough to bring back a draconian law.

Besides, why should our police be aided by something like the EO when many countries in the world don’t have it and yet the police there are coping as they should? Wouldn’t bringing back the EO make the work of our police force easier, and our policemen lazier, since they could shut away any suspect without having to try too hard to prove their criminality in a court of law?

Is it because the police had it easy with the EO that they now find it harder to deal with crime without it?

Just look at how things have got worse. In the space of less than a week, we have suddenly seen two shootings in the streets, one of them ending in death.

The unfortunate fatality was that of Hussain Ahmad Najadi, founder of the Arab-Malaysian Development Bank, who was shot dead on July 29 in a car park at Lorong Ceylon, KL. His wife was also shot in the hand and thigh.

On July 27, MyWatch Chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan was shot at an intersection in Taman Awana Indah, Negeri Sembilan. He is now in hospital waiting for his condition to be stable enough for the bullet to be removed from his ribcage.

Only three months earlier, on April 26, Deputy Director-General of Customs Shaharuddin Ibrahim was shot dead while he was on his way to his office in Putrajaya.

These three are just the high-profile cases. Other shootings have also occurred recently, but they are not so commonly known.

For example, as reported in The Star, two men drove up to a restaurant in Kampung Simee, Ipoh, on July 29 and started shooting at the patrons there. They killed Jasrafveenderjeet Singh and injured two others.

The police must feel besieged by all these shootings. And the public must be wondering if the police are doing enough to prevent them. How are Malaysians to feel safe anymore? Shootings could happen anytime anywhere.

What’s intriguing about the Sanjeevan shooting is that it could be linked to his recent revelation of police involvement in syndicated crime and other illegal activities. Hours before he was shot, he had tweeted the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the police force thus: “A cop told some syndicate fellow that he’ll get them firearms and told them to fire shots at my house to scare me or my family.”

PKR’s Strategy Director, Rafizi Ramli, has also said that Sanjeevan had approached him for help a day earlier to expose the names of the police officers who are linked to drug syndicates. If this is true, some among the police are acting like Mafia gangsters.

IGP Khalid Abu Bakar has promised a thorough investigation into Sanjeevan’s shooting and his allegations. It would be interesting to see how fast the task force he has set up comes up with results, and how deeply it probes.

Khalid’s pledge is at least more sensible than what Zahid said about the shooting. The minister totally denied any police involvement in the attempt on Sanjeevan’s life. Without even bothering to investigate first, he seemed to know the answer already. He did not even have the sense to say, “Let’s wait and see what the police find out.”

He was too quick, too glib in saying what he said. He showed he wasn’t even thinking. His faux pas demonstrated clearly the kind of minister he is. Shoot first, figure out later. Make denials without backing them up with knowledge. In this sense, he is somewhat like his predecessor, Hishammuddin. Is talking without thinking a home minister’s occupational hazard?

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak has just offered to give the police whatever they need, within reasonable limits, to make them more effective in combating crime. He would set up a sub-committee comprising several ministers – including Zahid – that would confer with the Attorney-General and the IGP on whatever legal provisions may be added to boost police actions against crime.

This sounds ominous. One could almost hear them talk about rebottling the EO already. For all we know, it might return with a pretty label and with some of its contents nicely renamed, but with its original spirit intact.

Ah, but let’s not jump the gun. Let’s give them a chance. Let’s wait and see what they come up with. Otherwise, we might be guilty of sounding like Zahid.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 10:46 am

    Opposition leaders and their supporters, rather than criminals, are more likely to be the target of the new law that replaces the EO.

  2. #2 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 12:33 pm

    Got back from bangkok last week. Boy. Bangkok certainly feels a lot safer. Crowded and jamful of cars. But safer. I didnt see or hear angry drivers hooting away mindlessly. I didnt see mad motorcyclists zooming about ridiculously.

    More importantly I didnt get the feeling that I could get mugged or robbed or beaten or shot for no reason.

  3. #3 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 12:43 pm

    Fight crime? Oh it would be easy. Just allocate another 50billion ringgit to the police force. Yeah. More money. More.

  4. #4 by SENGLANG on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 12:49 pm

    The first priority in crime fighting is ADMIT the problem. Why it is so difficult to admit that is a problem facing the people out there , serious or other wise. Listen to how the people feel and make them feel good and save again

    There is absolutely no point in using statistic. It is purely historical and good for academic. What it is important is make the environment feel safe again and bring the people confident back.

    We will never see the light with out the right attitude iw admit and do something

  5. #5 by silat88 on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 4:24 pm

    they are too busy chasing down the opposition since they will not be rewarded otherwise. pathetic that no government official has the guts to deal with the alarming crime rates and yes they will say in comparison with Thailand, Indonesia, etc. we are better off. It is not a competition against others but oneself but then again we are talking about people who are myopic

  6. #6 by worldpress on Monday, 12 August 2013 - 6:07 pm

    Top administration need recycle and overhaul.

  7. #7 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 - 9:18 am

    Crime up cops down?


    Crime’s up. That is for sure.

    And cant beat them. That too is for sure.

    So join them.

    What else do you expect?

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 - 9:39 am

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