On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Do more to combat crime

The last thing our police force would want is to have headlines of high-profile crime cases splashed across the newspapers. But perception is everything. Malaysians, especially those living in major cities, feel insecure and what is more worrisome is that women and the elderly seem to be easy targets.

The statistics show that in Selangor, there is a 19.4% drop in the crime rate since 2009 and overall, the nationwide figure dipped by 24.7%.

The Home Ministry has said the crime level fell from 211,645 cases in 2008 to 157,891 last year.

No one is spared. Even the home of former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik was broken into recently and his gun was taken away.

More disturbing are the constant reports of women being robbed, or nearly robbed, in or outside malls in the Klang Valley.

They may be run-of-the-mill crimes but such incidents are now posted on all the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter by the victims, complete with photographs, and they go viral in an instant. Eventually, these incidents are picked up by the newspapers and online news portals.

Crime takes place daily and police have often regarded such cases as petty crime as they deal with thousands of cases.

The police often update the media daily with more serious crime cases such as murder, abduction, drug seizures and armed robberies. When there is a shoot-out, the media is quickly alerted by their contacts. These are followed by on-the-scene reports.

In the news

Daily petty crimes such as break-ins are often relegated to the bottom but now the public have better access to reaching out to others. If in the past, victims did not even want to let their neighbours know of their misfortune, younger Malaysians want to share their experiences with the world.

Thus, when Nayati Moodliar was abducted outside his school on April 12, it was known around the world swiftly. The news was reported in his hometown in South Africa about the same time as in the Malaysian media.

Our government officials and police would surely not want to see such cases highlighted but no one should be in denial mode. Yes, there is no need to sensationalise such reports but they must certainly be published and discussed.

Politicians only want to see their own pictures in the newspapers or their state bulletins but the reality is that crime has become a hot dinner conversation topic.

There is another issue that has cropped up. Now that the Emergency Ordinance has been abolished, there is fear that former detainees are now roaming free and have gone back to their bad old ways.

Last year, more than 700 people were detained under the EO but the law has since been repealed. Although the police have justified the use of the EO to bring in criminals that they cannot charge in court due to insufficient evidence, they have also been accused of abusing the EO.

Some of these ex-EO detainees have now been blamed for the recent spike in crime although there is no real data to back this argument.

But fighting crime isn’t the job of the police alone. Bashing the Government and the cops is easy but public apathy has also been identified as one of the reasons why criminals have become more brazen in committing crimes.

There is reluctance among the public to come forward to give evidence after they lodge police reports. Not wanting to testify in courts because of the lengthy court process would not help the police and prosecution send these crooks to jail. Then there are also those who fear repercussion for their personal safety.

The police also cannot be everywhere. Mall managers, for example, cannot expect policemen to be stationed in their buildings. It is their responsibility to hire more security guards and work with the police to enhance safety.

Over the years, security has become a major concern but it is such an irony that from shopping malls to gated communities and secured neighbourhoods, the guards hired to take care of Malaysians are mostly foreigners.

Business will always look at costs when hiring but we should be equally concerned about their backgrounds and be prepared to pay more for good workers.

Pay security guards well and our employers will get Malaysians to work for them. Now, some of these foreign guards cannot even give directions to customers at malls.

And why not keep some levels of parking lots in malls for the elderly and women? Or install press alarms at every level of the parking areas. Let us see the management of malls do something concrete.