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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Police deny rise in crime but killings go on

The recent escalation in crimes involving shooting incidents has raised the ire of many including politicians and obviously the public in general.
COMMENT
In the past four months we have witnessed nothing less than six fatal shootings in various parts of the country. The targets have included teachers, businessmen, an anti-crime watchdog advocate and even a corporate personality.
Why are mafia-styled executions so rampant lately? Are guns that easily available in Malaysia so much so they are being used as primary weapons in almost all serious crimes, including robberies and thefts?
There is a compounding fear that illegal arms are making their way into this country via the borders in the northern region.
Over the years there have been grave concerns that our borders are not well guarded and there seem to be many illegal entry points which further facilitates the entry and exit of firearms and other contraband.
Above that, the element of corruption cannot not be ruled out too. Apparently there are some bad apples within the immigration and custom enforcement divisions who are on the take from the “big boys” running syndicate activities.
A deliberate lack of vigilance and surveillance may have led to the ease of how guns are moved around the region before and after a crime is carried out, thus the difficulty by the police in tracing and investigating cases.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the police who deny that crime is on the rise.
Statistics on the overall crime rate in Malaysia is designated as “medium”, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a US government inter-agency website managed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, US Department of State.
Nevertheless, is the perception more influential or the reality on ground that moulds the thought of society towards violent crimes here?
Where is the policing?
The Polis Di Raja Malaysia (PDRM) has been strengthened with extra personnel, sophisticated equipments and vehicles and supported by cutting edge technology crime busting laboratories under the transformation agenda by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, but clearly lacks the motivation in curbing ammunition-related incidents.
The police force have been labeled and perceived as lame ducks and highly corrupted by and large in the eye of the common man.
Recently a Malaysian anti-crime watch outfit, MyWatch, made a startling revelation linking PDRM personnel with underground mafia dons who apparently control the drug, weapon and illegal money lending syndicates.
There is a silent consensus that the allegations may hold water, and the utter fear rippling among the syndicate members may have led to the attempt made on the life of the anti-crime watch dog leader.
In a knee-jerk reaction, the police denied the allegations vehemently but cautiously stated that if there are any personnel from the force involved, appropriate action will be meted out. We shall wait for the outcome.
There is a notion that the root of all this evil is corruption.
Policing by the enforcement personnel is as important to curb crime. Prevention is always better than cure in any circumstance, thus increased street patrolling is vital. Unfortunately policing is clearly lacking.
The general view is that we have inadequate policemen on the street covering crime hot-spots. Though we may not be able to predict the location of the next incident, demographic crime statistics can be a yardstick for benchmarking certain standard operating procedures in policing aspects.
Currently there seems a large pool of policemen given desks duties instead of being on the streets fighting crime. Being bogged down by loads of paper work has impeded efforts to place more of the force out there.
It is mind-boggling and intriguing at the same time since our top ministers in cabinet boast of being an “online government”.
The EO excuse
No matter what the statistics may say or how a crime is categorised plays no importance to those affected. Even a single incident is cause enough for anxiety and concern.
Admitted that total crime eradication can merely be a fantasy realised by super-heroes like Batman or Superman, but the stark reality is that beyond perception there must be a sense of security and feel-good factor in the minds of the people.
Adequate policing may be a timely nucleus imbedded before it is too late. We have yet to see effective joint patrolling between the police, local communities and RELA coming to fruition in curbing crime.
We also clearly lack mobile police beats and even those that are in play lack the drive and visibility. Try making a report in one of those mobile beats and “pondok police” to experience the run-around they give the victims.
Appallingly, our Home Minister has conveniently hammering home the contention that the rise in gun-related crimes is connected to the abolishment of the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance (EO).
The EO was abolished in 2012 as part of Najib’s transformation programmes in liberalising our political landscape.
The EO is well-known for provisions that allows for indefinite detention of a person without trial. Nevertheless this assumption is dished out to please themselves in their justification of the rising crime rate.
Is it indeed really that the EO had been able to curb crime that effectively in Malaysia? There is no such evidence to substantiate this claim.
Do they also mean to direct us to believe that other laws of the land are not as effective and paralysed to the point of encouraging criminals to be resurrected?
Let us not be fooled for no apparent reason into believing highly porous defenses are being whipped up like bad icing on a stale cake!
For decades the EO has been used for blanketing the weaknesses of the police’s investigation skills as stressed by many opposition politicians. Their lack of competency, consistency, perseverance and persistence has had profound negative consequences in nipping and rooting out crime.
With rampant allegations of corruption at every level within the PDRM has further cemented the belief that they have been partners-in-crime indeed.
Disgruntled and frustrated victims of crime (direct or indirect) have even gone to the extent of accusing the police of being “Godfathers” to those associated with the crime world.
On the other hand, our political leaders in government glaringly lack the willpower and enthusiasm in making drastic changes to curb crime. The ever pending issue of transparency and disciplining the bad apples have more often than not fallen on deaf ears.
Ditch the ‘tidak apa’ attitude
The authorities while profess and promise to transform various uniformed and enforcement bodies, the outcomes have fallen flat with no tangible or pronounced benefit in addressing crime.
The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has not been perceived as being effective in battling corruption that has engulfed the police force.
Mounting accusations of corruption has been hurled towards PDRM right up to its top most echelons but little or nothing has been tackled head on by the MACC.
Pressure groups from opposition parties and non-governmental organisations, for years, have been lamenting on the “tidak apa” attitude shown by the PM himself in transforming the force practically and not by mere rhetoric.
There is no doubt that crimes are an outcome by default and opportunistic in nature due to multitude of factors as described. The lackadaisical attitude towards policies and its poor execution further ferments more serious crimes as seen lately.
Use of guns in day light assassinations and attempts on lives were considered rare and isolated in yesteryear but not today. With the current trend, there will only be more fear, accusations of corruption, demise of trust towards the police force and above all anger towards the entire system.
The government can deny in all sense with well laced and cooked up reasons or statistics, but the horrifying experience one has to endure being a victim can be traumatising with grave psychological impact, firstly as the direct victim of a crime then a victim of bureaucracy.

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