Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Escalating crime rate alarming

Infuse new blood to fight losing battle

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s warning that the high number of street crime cases should not be taken lightly as it contributed to 17% of the overall crime index is timely. It is appalling that street crimes continue to increase at an alarming rate, being 9.58% for this year. Equally shocking is the revelation by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein that more than 30% of the police personnel’s time is spent on administrative and clerical work, leaving not sufficient manpower concentrate on their primary job of fighting crime.

In recent times the crime rate has reached an alarming level where people are not free to go about their daily chores in peace and security. The people are now living in fear for their safety and that of their loved ones and the government cannot continue to be lackadaisical and complacent on this issue of safety of its citizens. It has to act fast to arrest this escalating crime rate. In this context, the Prime Minister’s resolve to reduce street crime by 20% in the next 14 months is very encouraging although many are skeptical whether he can achieve that with the existing system.

One of the most important measures to reduce crime would be to increase the physical presence of the police throughout the country especially in high crime prone areas. The mere physical presence of uniformed police personnel would deter many potential criminals. Installing more street lights and CCTVs in high-crime areas will also go a long way to prevent crime but technological sophistication without greater human commitment will not take us anywhere.

Rela, Rukun Tetangga, Rakan Cop and other uniformed agencies may be roped in to assist the police to fight crime but the main responsibility lies with the police force that is specially trained for the job.These other groups are not trained to deal with criminals and overdependence on them may be counter-productive and dangerous. On the other hand more young Malaysians must be recruited, trained and deployed in field for anti-crime patrols instead of wasting their skills by being preoccupied with desk and paper work, which can be done by others.

The escalating crime rate is an indication that existing methods used are failing to produce the desired results and it may be timely to review and formulate better and more up to date methods to fight crime, perpetrators of which have become bolder and more sophisticated. When we are losing the battle we cannot continue to fight with same old generals, soldiers and equipment. We need new blood to be infused into this combat, in the form of better, more energetic and committed manpower.

More talented young men and women should be recruited into the police force to combat this national menace, to free our streets and neighborhood of thieves and criminals who are threatening the peace and security of defenseless people, including women and children. I am sure there are enough among our youth who are eager to join the forces to do their bit for the nation if only given the opportunity.

The best must be recruited, the selection being based purely on merit and commitment, not favoritism of any sorts. Denying eligible young Malaysians the opportunity to serve the nation in the police force because of color, creed or political ideology, would be a great disservice to the people and the country. That itself would be tantamount to an unforgivable crime.

Apart from getting more people into the force, the police should also strive to improve its image in the eyes of the people. The police should be seen as an institution that is truly independent, professional, people-friendly and above all one with full integrity ever ready to carry out its duties without fear or favor of any parties. Unless it can create such a positive image in the minds of the people we will always be fighting a losing battle.

The people play a vital role in crime prevention and it is essential for the police to get the cooperation of the public .The police must adopt a more people-friendly attitude to get their full cooperation, without which there is no way they can win the war against crime. Witnesses and whistle-blowers should be protected not persecuted.

Malaysians had united across the ethnic divide to defeat the British colonialists, the Japanese occupation and the communist insurgents of the past. Similarly the people must once again unite behind a rejuvenated and committed police force to defeat the criminals who are bent on destroying our peaceful way of life.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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