On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Bring in the crime-busters

The security problem was one of the issues potential investors posed to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when he visited Singapore recently to talk about the multi-billion-ringgit IDR. 

Like it or not, investors will not put money into the project if they do not feel safe. That is a fact. 

Over the past week, there have been two violent rapes that have triggered a public outcry against the perpetrators. In the first incident on June 12, three men raped a 19-year-old girl and her 22-year-old boyfriend could only watch helplessly because he had been slashed twice. 

The following day, a group of armed men took a couple on a one-hour terror ride before raping the 35-year-old woman in the presence of her friend, who was also slashed. 

Last month, a woman who was waiting in the car while her husband went into the toilet was held up at knife-point and taken on a terror ride, gang-raped and robbed. 

What horrified Malaysians was that the victim was a pregnant woman who begged the men to let her go but they took turns to rape her instead, in the presence of her three-year-old son, in a secluded area. 

In May, a gang reportedly terrorised city folk by kicking them off their motorbikes before robbing them. Malaysians returning from Singapore were the targets. 

All these high-profile cases of violent crimes have further dented the city’s image, giving the impression that JB is a lawless city and the police seem unable, even incapable, to combat crime effectively. 

The public has a right to question the effectiveness of the state police force and they certainly have every right to demand responsibility on the part of the police officials. 

The state’s top brass are paid to fight, or at least manage crime, and if they are unable to fulfil their roles, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan has to review their positions. 

Johor must be given top priority because of the importance of the IDR as the country’s Southern Gateway and every support must be given by all agencies and the private sector to make it a reality. 

In March, it was reported that Johor police would get RM330mil for new personnel and hardware to fight crime, including 500 more mobile patrol units, which will ensure a response time of 15 minutes or less.  

Johor, which has a 3,000-strong police force, is recruiting at least 2,000 more. 

Johor certainly needs plenty of crime-busters and firepower. Last year, a total of 29,079 cases ranging from theft of undergarments to kidnapping were reported in 76 police stations around the state. 

About 68% of these reports were lodged in JB district alone while the rest was spread across the remaining seven districts. 

While Johor is in the news for violent crimes, it is not the number one state for crime. Selangor is ranked top, but it is no consolation as Johor is in second place. 

The state police can boast that it has a solving rate of more than double Interpol’s 20% target for last year, but its report card will not inspire confidence among Johoreans and the rest of Malaysia. 

We have to acknowledge that JB has a crime problem, and getting upset over remarks by others that it has these problems will not end our troubles. Don’t shoot the messenger, as they say. 

Crime is today one of the biggest concerns of Malaysians, with most of us sharing stories of experiences involving family members, friends or colleagues. 

Unlike other states, Johor is located next to Indonesia and Singapore with 17 entry and exit points, especially at the ferry terminals. 

Police presence surely needs to be beefed up, particularly at coastal areas, because it is easy for Indonesian criminals to slip in and out undetected.  

More police beats, particularly in the city and neighbourhoods, will help to prevent crime. 

But fighting crime is not just the job of the police. The community must work with the police to make JB a safer place. 

If New York can do it, there is no reason why JB, with the support of the police and public, cannot regain its turf from the criminals.