From the Selangor Times Issue 14, 4-6 March 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!
This week, Ask Lord Bobo ponders Malaysia’s crime rate, and what the police are doing about it.
When will we be able to take a walk in our own country without having the fear of being robbed, mugged, etc? @kennethwpl, via Twitter
If you were to believe the statistics that have been bandied about by the official channels over the past few months, you would think the crime rate in Malaysia has gone down tremendously. If you were to believe the statistics that have been bandied about by the official channels over the past few months, you would be very silly indeed.
It is undeniable that crime is a major problem in Malaysia. Some say that crime is prevalent because the police and the prosecution are largely incompetent and corrupt. Any discussion about the competency or otherwise of the police force will inevitably distill down to the underlying issues of low remuneration, poor training, and major systemic flaws that are not the fault of the individual officers. But the public perception of the police force is very, very low. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the average man-on-the-street is only slightly less fearful and suspicious of the police than he is of criminals.
This is hardly surprising. The priorities of the police force seem to be the following, from highest to lowest:
- To provide outrider service to an unbelievably long list of ministers, officials, and anyone with a vague semblance of a link to these so-called “VIPs”. It is of national importance that these individuals do not get stuck in traffic, obviously.
- To obstruct citizens from exercising their constitutional right to express themselves and to freely assemble by clamping down on peaceful and legitimate protests against the policies and actions of the Federal Government, the latest example of which is the HINDRAF march on 27 February.
- Dealing with crime. When we say “dealing with,” we obviously mean manning the computers at police stations and acting as processing clerks to key in those police reports.
- REALLY dealing with crime. As in prevention. Or investigation and crime-solving. But this obviously only takes place if there is any free time leftover from the three main functions above. After all, they’re not paid very well.
What of the prosecution then? The biggest priority of the prosecution is currently the anus of a former political aide, which recent evidence has suggested to be polygamous. The mass of corruption allegations against senior police officers and the Attorney General himself over the internet is a matter of public record. However, no serious effort to investigate those allegations have been made, adding to the public perception that the police and the AG’s Chambers are covering each other’s backs (no link to the aforementioned political aide), and calling into question the integrity of both institutions. In the meantime, the prosecution of high-profile cases have consistently been unsuccessful, which inevitably leads many to conclude that — contrary to what Hollywood tells us — perhaps crime does pay.
We need to inject professionalism and integrity into the police force and the AG’s Chambers. The key measures to be taken towards this end must be to make both institutions more accountable to the people, and not merely have them answer to the Government of the day. Two solutions come to mind — set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, and make the AG’s Chambers answerable to Parliament. Unfortunately, the present Federal Government is unwilling to do either.
On the other side of the coin, the level of unemployment must be reduced. There is a direct correlation between rising unemployment and petty crime. To reduce unemployment, the Government has to teach people how to fish, and create jobs. To teach, there has to be a revamp of the education system, and abolition of the many laws that restrict thought and expression. To create jobs, there must first exist a proper environment that nurtures business and entrepreneurship. In order to carry out both successfully, there must be meritocracy, equality, non-discrimination on the basis of race or religion, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. Apart from being the hallmarks of any progressive society, those values are necessary and indispensable. Unfortunately, the present Federal Government does not think so.
To answer your question then — we do not know.
What we do know is that it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, immediately.
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