Fighting crime

By Zedeck Siew, The Nut Graph

After 52 years as a sovereign parliamentary democracy, the time has come for the Malaysian police to … embrace democratic policing, to protect the people and not the regime in power

ONE night in April 2009, Hazwan Haili was out for drinks with friends in the Masjid India area of downtown Kuala Lumpur.

"As I was walking back to my car I was rushed by two guys with tinted helmets," Hazwan, a stage performer in his early 20s, tells The Nut Graph. "One of them was holding a knife, and they asked for my wallet and handphone." The motorcyclists took Hazwan's money and cell phone, discarded his wallet, then fled. According to Hazwan, the entire episode lasted less than two minutes.

"Before, you'd only hear of women being victims of snatch theft and mugging. But now KL is not safe for anybody," Hazwan says.

Crime rates soaring

It isn't just men these days who are being targeted in the alarming rise in crime rate. In an interview with weekly internet programme The Fairly Current Show, Taman Tun Dr Ismail community organiser Hatim Abdullah revealed that his neighbourhood was considering setting up guard posts to blockade entrances to the middle-class suburb.

Indeed, National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong announced that communities were becoming increasingly gated and guarded. They would continue to be that way, he said, until the government "assures us that it is safe to walk the streets".

Chang was speaking at a roundtable discussion, convened by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and chaired by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament on 28 July 2009. The discussion was titled "A new inspector-general of police (IGP) for a safe Malaysia". It hosted views from opposition political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the need for reform and better leadership within the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

In a statement announcing the roundtable discussion, Lim revealed that the PDRM — under IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan's leadership — had failed to meet all three of its core functions, as identified by the 2005 Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.

"To keep crime low, eradicate corruption, and uphold human rights — Musa failed in every one of them!" Lim exclaimed.