Malaysians still insecure despite drop in crime statistics
KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — The authorities have insisted that the country’s crime rate is on the decline but with the recent spate of kidnap attempts and robberies, many Malaysians are now beginning to feel the streets are not as safe as the statistics claim.
Reports of the kidnapping of 12-year-old Dutch schoolboy Nayati Moodliar, followed by the harrowing tale of a young woman who escaped two kidnappers in a shopping mall, another attempted rape and kidnap at Ampang’s Tesco last week and the recent assault on Bersih activist Wong Chin Huat have raised alarms over the current state of public security.
Following the reports, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently admitted that the government needed to do more to combat crime.
But other leaders, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture), the government’s efficiency unit PEMANDU and the police seem to be less worried than the prime minister.
Last Friday, Bernama Online reported Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar as insisting that crime was not on the rise as claimed, pointing out that statistics obtained from the state and district police, as well as international platforms like the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), have shown the effectiveness of measures to combat and reduce crime in the country.
Hishammuddin was also recently reported as saying that the few recent reports of violent crime incidences were “isolated”.
He reportedly told the media that “blowing a few cases out of proportion would create a perception that Malaysia was an unsafe country when official data showed otherwise”.
PEMANDU and the Home Ministry have also claimed that crime had dropped by 11 per cent last year, with street crime diving 40 per cent since the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) was put in place two years ago.
Opposition lawmakers have decried these statistics, even accusing the government of lying.
“Given the complete lack of transparency as well as the sheer lack of consistency in the state of crime in the country, it is not a surprise that the Malaysian public do not trust the authorities.
“What makes it worse is the government’s refusal to acknowledge the fears the men and women on the street face when they are in or out of their houses,” DAP MP Tony Pua had said recently.
But as reports of more incidences continue to hit media headlines and the authorities insisting on standing by their statistics, members of the public have decided to band together to fight crime in their own way.
A non-political, non-governmental group calling itself Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and Snatch or “MARAH”, which is also the Malay word for “angry”, kicked off an online petition recently with a signature target of 100,000.
“We are strictly a non-political, non-religious, colour-blind citizen’s initiative who care enough to lobby for the safety of all Malaysians in general and females in particular.
“We are campaigning for safer car parks, safer streets, and the right to be safe in and outside our own homes,” said the group’s description on the petition, which was created on Causes.com, an online advocacy and fundraising application within social networking website Facebook.
The petition also features a short note addressed to the Selangor government and the federal government, where MARAH signees offer their services to help the authorities combat crime.
“We will share info, tips and resources, name names, post pictures and videos and list the convicted perpetrators in our Hall Of Shame.
“We will lobby for increased police patrols, protection and enforcement of existing laws against rapes, robberies, snatch thefts and abductions, particularly in shopping mall car parks,” the note reads.
MARAH founder former journalist Dave Avran told The Malaysian Insider that he had created the group after reading the many recent cases of muggings, robberies, rapes and snatch theft in news reports.
“MARAH aims to work with the above mentioned entities to enable ordinary Malaysians to reclaim ownership of safer car parks, streets and neighbourhoods.
“We understand that the police are overworked and stretched and that’s why we would like to work together with them with regards to safety tips, self-defence demonstrations and proactive action,” he said over Facebook chat last night.
“To make things clear, I am angry with the perpetrators and not the authorities,” he added.
At the time of writing, the petition has drawn 711 signatures and is expected to grow over the next few weeks.
All over social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, netizens are sharing their horror stories and offering advice to one another on how to keep safe on the streets.
“There was a time when we all can walk freely even at night but now even in the day time we are not safe. It is time for the citizens to petition our cause to the ever denying authority,” said one Facebook user on MARAH’s petition page.
“We don’t want to live in fear anymore. We want justice to be served and safety to be the utmost priority for women. Sign the petition,” said another netizen.