Media should report crime, government must release statistics, says DAP
KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The DAP called on the media today to ignore the government’s plea to report only solved cases and not sensationalise crime, saying the role of the press in fighting crime was to report it.
Publicity chief Tony Pua also urged PEMANDU and the Home Ministry to live up to their claims of being transparent by releasing detailed crime statistics by districts and type of crime as had been done before Putrajaya’s efficiency unti began claiming a reduction in crime.
“The media has a responsibility to report crime to ensure the public takes the necessary precautions. This helps decrease the chances of crime happening.
“Datuk Seri Idris Jala claimed the police, Home Ministry and PEMANDU have been very transparent in acknowledging there are 157,891 cases in 2011. If the government is so confident, why is it refusing to provide detailed statistics?” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP asked.
Jala, who is PEMANDU chief executive, had called on the media to play its role in fighting crime and help arrest the “doom and gloom” by reporting on solved cases and not sensationalising crime by repeatedly reporting the same news.
The unit, tasked with helping the police reduce crime under its Government Transformation Programme (GTP), has staunchly defended statistics showing street crime has fallen by 40 per cent in the past two years despite a recent spate of high-profile kidnappings and assaults.
These cases in the Klang Valley, which has left a teacher fighting for her life, have led to questions over PEMANDU’s claim that crime dropped by 11.1 per cent last year with street crime falling by 39.7 per cent in the last two years since crime reduction was made a National Key Result Area (NKRA) in 2010.
But the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department told The Star in an interview published yesterday that “the media does have a role to play.”
“They should work closely with the police on communicating the cases that they have successfully solved. Sometimes, we need to arrest the doom and gloom by also focusing on the positives.
“If the statistics are not convincing, perhaps then we should try to dwell into how the police were able to bring the crime rates down in a specific area, for example, one of the hotspots,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
But Pua (picture) had questioned the effectiveness of the GTP which singles out Selangor as a “hotspot” for crime reduction after the Home Ministry said crime in Malaysia’s richest state had risen by nearly 12 per cent from 2010 to 2011 or 39,691 to 44,302 cases.
The Home Ministry quickly issued a correction but Pua found that this was at least the third different set of crime figures for his state, creating further doubt over the accuracy of the government’s statistics.
Pua also pointed today that there have been at least four cases of assault and attempted kidnapping in Klang Valley shopping malls in the past month, including a women found with blood gushing from her head in Midvalley Megamall last week.
“We call on the government to stop blaming the media for the concerns about crime. Instead, tell us why it refuses to provide detailed statistics on crime if it really has nothing to hide from us,” he said.
Jala insisted two weeks ago that the crime rate has been drastically reduced, pointing instead to “unfortunate” media coverage as the cause for heightened concerns over public safety.
“If you divide by 365 days in a year, you have an average of 430 stories a day. You can more than fill the entire newspaper with crime,” he had said, referring to the 157,891 reports of crime last year.
He also said it was “unfortunate” that the media had reported the crime rate has increased when in 2009 there were 209,825 reports.
“I wish this (the reduction) was the story (in the media). When people tell me about a crime, I say I can tell them there are another 157,000 crimes. The point is it has reduced, but not to zero,” the senator added.
But PEMANDU later clarified that it was not blaming the media for sparking fears over violent crime and the senator added in The Star yesterday “I was speaking of how that creates and gives rise to the perception of fear that crime is on the rise as opposed to blaming the media.”
“It is correct that the media needs to report. But by repeating the same news — for example, Mawi’s house break-in, many times is what we call ‘sensationalising the news’,” the former Malaysia Airlines boss said, referring to the popular Malay singer.
Jala also said in April the reduction was achieved by redeploying 21,600 policemen to police crime hotspots in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang while Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has said in 2010 that 7,402 desk-bound policemen were sent out to the field.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak said early last week that more must be done to increase public safety, two days after Hishammuddin insisted that two recent violent incidents were not indicative of a rising crime rate.
The prime minister gave his assurance that the government was concerned with “all kinds of violence, including against women”, despite saying that the country’s general crime rate has dipped considerably.
But Hishammuddin had earlier insisted that the country’s crime rate is not on the rise despite growing concern over public safety, saying that two recent violent crime cases were “isolated” incidents.
“The numbers have not increased from the past. One or two cases... you show me one country where there is no kidnapping.
“Don’t exploit [the incidents] to make this something political,” he had told reporters, referring to the assault and mugging of Bersih steering committee member Wong Chin Huat.
Wong was left bloodied after being attacked while jogging in Petaling Jaya, while teacher Teoh Soo Kim, 51, was left fighting for her life after suffering severe head injuries during her abduction, both incidents happening within days of each other.
Besides the two bloody attacks a fortnight ago, a spate of kidnap attempts has raised concern over public safety.
A 12-year-old in Ipoh and a 20-something in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya narrowly escaped abduction in the past month, episodes that followed after the high-profile ransom case of 12-year-old Dutch national Nayati Moodliar, which gained international media coverage.