Crime, oh boy!
|Praba Ganesan is Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Social Media Strategist. He wants to engage with you, and learn from your viewpoints. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @prabaganesan|
JUNE 28 — I spent the better part of the weekend thinking about a dead toddler. And her mother faces probable prosecution for allegedly causing the abuse attributing to the untimely death.
The police say the case is closed.
Away from the more modest Selayang area, three days later in the affluent Bangsar zone, a woman was slashed and left bleeding in a parking lot. Metres away from the entrance of arguably the most visited cineplex in the country. It’s that packed, and Fridays at 10.30pm is not off-peak by any means.
My reservation in writing about the above is the fear that somehow I’ll end up in the populist end of the security spectrum. Nestling myself with those wielding the hatchet and baying for blood, seeking for more base responses to social inequities and human affectations. Providing credence to their argument that the way forward is to remove civil liberties, emphasising caution over progress.
I am not with them. I want all of us to be safe. I also want all of us to live our lives without a large state looming over us, deciding our lives and our values. I’d like to live my own life, and am an ardent subscriber that after economic independence, Man craves for personal space. A police state is not the ideal of the modern citizen.
Yet I can’t shake off the horrible feeling of knowing in an examination room lies a two-year-old, ready for a post-mortem. For peritonitis (ruptured intestines) brought on by blunt force trauma that killed her, the doctor’s report read.
My nephew will turn two in October. Any madman will have to break through a wall of crazy laid by myself and my family before he can touch the lad. He’ll have to be mad to try.
However, my own fear for those I love cannot depress the wider question of security for all; for those who love their children like the Russians did, and those who don’t. I must acquiesce to the universal of creating realities which benefit the most, most often while caring for all equally.
For society needs a larger and stronger wall, as the dynamics of modern living require dynamism in the construct protecting it.
More to all, and warning to you
Psychopaths and accidents excepted, crime is largely a by-product of economic realities.
Governments must both honestly help most of its people break the poverty cycle and disincentivise criminal behaviour.
Both hand in hand, with a government bent on prevention not on punishment.
Their desire to see their citizens safe must come before a state’s thirst for revenge, albeit on behalf of victims.
Victims, given a choice, would rather be not victims. They only take cold comfort to know perpetrators are being hurt through the state’s mighty arm. Families take even less comfort in reducing their bereavement by being bathed in the warm blood of criminals.
Everyone would rather be alive and well. That’s the goal.
After decades of correcting economic aberrations through proxies — every Syed Mokhtar and his overflowing pot of gold expected to cascade wealth to millions of constitutional Malays — some do earnestly believe that the millionaires will end the poverty of millions.
The GINI index for half a generation shows Malaysia’s income disparity between the richest and the poorest is growing not narrowing.
The urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are walking displays daily that the emergence of that many gated communities doesn’t translate to the rest of us feeling warm and fuzzy in the morning.
Jobs and just pay must become major objectives of this government, and the one replacing it in the future.
Unlike many countries, that ambition is not wishful thinking. A rich Malaysia within a short spell can correct the pay gap, but it will create resentment.
Every time I ask any Malaysian, irrespective of their voting record, if RM1,500 enough for a family of four the answer is always no. If I then ask whether Malaysia is a wealthy nation due to its resources, I rarely get an objection. When I proceed to query why a “proper” minimum wage should not be instituted, without exception I get the refrain that this might “upset” the business community.
I understand that the paragraph above is basic and does not factor various other facts. But it does paint the principle equation.
The means may be suspect, but ensuring all Malaysians willing to work a hard day of labour have the “proper” pay is not an impossible short-term goal. Therefore any government with a mandate which is unable to meet it is incompetent.
Policies can be instituted to help genuine businesses and productive employees. It is the rent-seekers who spoil the game and sour the debate.
Think of that the next time economic desperation-induced crimes harm your fellow Malaysian. Ask how much of the blood was caused by poor governing?
Second, the police force needs to modernise.
And for the sake of all that is sacred, modernising is not the rallying cry for massive government procurement. You can’t buy crime out of your society.
The police force after the Ministry of Education is the most overly bureaucratic and highly indebted to ruling politicians and not the community it serves.
Police cannot be everywhere, but they can do two things.
Generate presence, so that criminals feel there is an invisible net ready to fall on them. Beat cops in our community will create that feel. This happens already, but its frequency can always be upped.
Then police work. All criminal reports must be investigated. Communities must be continuously updated on the development of police work. Evidence gathering cannot be limited to serially remanding a person and beating a confession out of the first person fitting the demographic.
Every crime has actors, and a trail. Policemen have to be smarter, all policemen not just those in the special units with special bush-jackets and test-tubes. Pride has to creep back to the force and bring back the investigating culture intent on justice not pre-planned outcomes.
Beating crime requires constancy, persistence and dedication. Every report matters. There has to be widespread tenacity in the force to fight crime.
When criminals know every crime will be looked into and perpetrators hounded, they will fear the law. And we will respect the police.
Are real policemen not sick and tired of being feared by the public because they have guns, and not respected because they are the symbol of a safe Malaysia?
The policy of truth
There are numbers, then there are feelings.
For some time the numbers issued on crime and the general feeling towards how secure it is being in Malaysia have diverged radically.
This is not about policing, this is about politicking.
If a nation’s safe, its present-day government wins votes, when it is unsafe votes are bled.
Leaders have found it more convenient to rely on public relations to appease citizens. They are being found out.
Crime is the cross to bear for all governments. Inherent within that obligation is the moral property of being true to the situation. For crime harms the innocent. More than votes, surely lives matter first.
Perhaps when it comes to crime, the truth must be primary and the votes secondary.
Accuse me of false idealism, but I can’t help feeling that my nephew, who’s moving to France on Sunday, is going to be safer, though I will miss him dearly.
I did not file a police report when my car was smashed in last week; I didn’t think it would matter and I wasn’t interested in the disinterested stares of the officers at the balai (station); I’ve been there before.
I’m safe for now, and the woman from the parking lot is going to recover physically. But that kid is still dead. Somehow not all is well in my country.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.