Crime statistics: Who cares? — Justin Santiago
JULY 13 — The recent attempted attack on a high-profile target in a high-profile location — no less than Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya — puts the debate on the perception that crime rates are rising in Malaysia to rest.
Forget about the statistics and who has got it right or wrong or whether they have been obfuscated or not. The plain fact of the matter — as the above reported incident has shown — is that criminals have become bolder and that even the prime minister had better look over his shoulder lest he becomes part of the statistics.
Crime is no longer confined to dark alleyways at odd hours of the night. It is increasingly happening in public places — car parks in malls have been a hot favourite recently — and in broad daylight.
The incident at the PM’s Office happened during the day while security personnel were on duty. The 47-year-old man and his 28-year-old female sidekick, armed with samurai swords, managed to get within 100 metres of the prime minister — something even persistent journalists have trouble achieving. Whoever said that the pen is mightier than the sword?
Why have criminals become bolder by the day (or night)?
One reason put forth by Federal CID director Commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin was public apathy. He was quoted as saying that the crooks won’t be so brazen if the public were looking out for each other. The honourable Mohd Zinin definitely got it wrong on this one. His statement. In one fell swoop he passed the buck of law enforcement from his force to the people he is supposed to protect.
With this type of attitude and public policies in place, which favour self policing, it is no wonder that a small town like Kuching with approximately 600,000 people and 150,000 homes has more break-ins per annum than the whole of Singapore with 5,000,000 people and 1,000,000 homes.
These policies favour security companies with underpaid and ill-equipped security guards who do not have the expertise, training, physique, equipment or bravado to apprehend criminals. These foreign workers, sometimes even without proper documentation, lack the legitimacy to apprehend criminals let alone get into a struggle with them. Can you imagine a parang-wielding gangster staring down at a Bangladeshi guard in full gear and nothing else? You get the picture.
To many Malaysians these are the people who protect them and their families when they enter their condos, office buildings, mall car parks and other public spaces.
Isn’t it time policies were put in place to limit self policing and to ensure that the police themselves do the job currently provided by private security companies. We need more well-built men in blue with proper training, with guns and with a mean look to scare the living daylights out of these crooks. Security just can’t be handled by labour agencies and labour agents out to make a quick buck.
* Justin Santiago runs a political communications consultancy in Kuala Lumpur.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.