On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

A vote to safety


TWO high-profile crimes in 48 hours – the abduction of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar outside her home and the brutal killing of Johor state assemblyman Datuk S. Krishnasamy at the Johor MIC headquarters.  

Five-year-old Sharlinie was snatched from outside her home in Taman Medan in Petaling Jaya while Krishnasamy was shot point blank by a gunman in a lift.  

These two incidents come just when the nation is still reeling from the shock of the controversy surrounding the sex DVD involving Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, where he was secretly filmed in a hotel room.  

The common thread is that these incidents create the perception that no one is safe anywhere, any more. Playing outside the home, going to a public place, or even retreating to the privacy of a hotel room are no longer as secure as before.  

The public do not expect the police to be able to resolve the former MCA vice-president’s case because the incident is said to have taken place at least six months ago or even longer. Nor do we want unnecessary resources used in this case.  

But the whole country will certainly be watching how the police tackle the two cases involving Sharlinie and Krishnasamy.  

The anxiety surrounding Sharlinie is tampered with a sense of hope that the high public profile could help the police solve the case quickly, and with a happy ending.  

Frightening tales 

Certainly, Malaysians do not want to see these two cases ending up in the cold files, where we hear standard replies that these cases are still being investigated, although we know the police have headed nowhere.  

For a long time, the public have been trying to tell our leaders that the country is no longer as safe it used to be, and should be.  

It has been a dinner conversation topic for some time, where everyone seems to have a friend, a relative or a colleague who has been robbed in broad daylight or has had his car stolen from outside the house.  

No one, from the student to the wealthy, is spared. At a dinner last week, a wealthy businessman told me he had three cars stolen and, fearing for his safety, he moved out of his bungalow to an apartment.  

In another case, a developer narrated how burglars, believed to be foreigners, smiled and waved at the closed circuit television that was installed at his property.  

We are supposed to put up with diplomatic niceties, so as not to stir up the anger of our neighbours, but try telling that to ordinary Malaysians who are fed up with crimes committed by foreigners in Malaysia.  

As much as we depend on foreign labour, many of us think it’s time we put a stop to the continuing influx of Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Myanmars, Cambodians, Nepalis, Chinese and now Africans into our country.  

Yes, many crimes are committed by Malaysians, too, as the statistics reveal. Certainly, Dr Chua was fixed by his fellow countrymen and not foreigners.  

But policing has become more difficult because of the large number of people, whose background and identities are largely unknown to the police. Their presence makes the job of our men in blue extremely difficult.  

How can we feel safe when Malaysian companies engage foreigners as security guards even when the law forbids it?  

It does not help when enforcement by certain government agencies is bad, and in some cases, even suspect. The shocking fact is that there are now more than two million registered foreign workers, not counting the huge illegal population, in the country. That’s more than the 95,000-strong police force and even the entire Indian community of 1.78 million.  

No politician wants to hear bad news but at every investment promotion event, businessmen have always asked our leaders what we are doing to keep Malaysia safe.  

The media can downplay crime stories, in the interest of tourist dollars, but it doesn’t stop people from talking about it.  

Tightening security 

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi directed CCTVs to be installed in all buildings as part of a step-up in crime prevention while his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, ordered a stop to hiring foreigners for airport jobs.  

Airports are designated security areas and foreigners certainly have no business to be allowed to roam freely there.  

The Government has also allocated huge allocations under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for the police.  

We understand that it takes time to recruit more policemen and buy modern crime-fighting equipment but, at the same time, we should consider doubling up our volunteer policemen.  

In the United Kingdom, much of routine police work is carried out by the community police, thus freeing the professional policemen to carry out the more difficult tasks.  

The presence of policemen in the streets has always acted as a deterrent and that should be the case. We should be mindful that policemen walking in the streets are more effective than those pushing pen and paper in the stations.  

Crime has never become an issue in previous polls but in this election, the voters want to be convinced that their homes and streets are safe. And wannabe MPs and state assemblymen better have their answers ready when they walk the streets to meet the voters.