Crime: who has failed?

J. D. Lovrenciear
The Sun daily newspaper reported in its headline news about the startling disclosure of how the police failed in the case of a citizen getting his hand severed by robbers (Hand it to the docs, Feb 15, 2012).

According to a private hospital’s consultant trauma and hand micro surgeon, the hospital called the police and “when we did not hear from the police even 30 minutes after seeking their help”, the medical team took the initiative to go out to the scene of the crime and search in the darkness of the night for the severed hand.

Syabas, to the highly responsible medical team from the hospital! Their extremely commendable action that went way beyond the call of medical duty eventually saw the victim having his hand successfully re-attached, following eight hours of non-stop surgery – working right through the night till 7.30 am the next day. 
Question: why did the police not respond to the SOS from the hospital? Mind you, the medical team waited for a desperate half hour and certainly out of sheer frustration and hopelessness they took that bold, committed and commendable decision to go and look for the lost hand at the scene of the crime all by themselves.
But then our Home Minster had only two days earlier lamented that the “feel safe” factor was still lacking among Malaysians. He went on to praise that the crime rate in Malaysia had dropped, citing that the overall crime index for 2011 had dropped by 11.1% in comparison to 2010.
He lamented why Malaysians still felt unsafe.
And then there is this Crime Analyst who is also the Executive Councilor of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation who held that Malaysians are ‘unwilling to let go of fearful sentiments’.
He further reiterated that Malaysians do not want to ‘take part in crime prevention’.
Meanwhile the MCA complaints and public services department head held that the ‘public are quick to find fault with the police but slow to recognize them for their efforts in keeping the country safe’.
Wow! We do have a complex situation here don’t we? Who then do we blame for the crime that maims and threatens citizens’ and their properties thereby denying the rakyat of their right to safety in their own country?
If you blame the citizens, then why do citizens invest heavily and with top priority have their homes barricaded with chains and locks, grills, alarm systems, flood lights, snarling Rottweilers, and in the case of the wealthy and powerful have security personnel on duty too?
If you think that citizens are not allowing that “feel safe” factor to take root, why have sporadic signage warning shoppers and travelers (and commuters) to be mindful of pick pockets? Why dish out repeated advice and near admonishments to the public that women must exercise more care with their handbags? Why ask banks to ensure that their ATM stations are properly lit and to install cameras or keep harping that account holders must exercise great caution when doing banking transactions?
And the trophy goes to the question – why did the police not respond to the emergency assistance sought by the team of medical personnel in the case of the man who nearly lost a hand for life?
Ah, the answer probably waiting to be dished out is “do not use just this one case to qualify with exaggeration the gravity of the situation.”
Or how about this: “we are investigating the matter and meanwhile the public are warned not to speculate.”
Wait a minute. Maybe the citizens must not focus on just this one incident where doctors have to also play Sherlock Holmes in giving a patient back his lost hand. Note the reminder of the MCA complaints and public services department. The public must take into account the uncountable times where the police have quietly done their jobs without celebrating the successes. That in itself then negates the very case of the severed hand?
So, who do we blame – the police, the Home Minister, the analyst or the complaints and public services department or the citizens? Or shall we all agree to just blame the robbers?
Or perhaps we should blame the medical team involved in the surgical case. Why the hell must they do the job of the police? They should have  just told the patient ‘since you didn’t bring along your severed hand mate, start looking for a robotic hand will ya!’
Leaders, oh leaders, when was the last time you walked the streets and the length and breadth of neighboring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia or even Sri Lanka?
Do you know that it almost impossible to explain to people in Sri Lanka that doors must be double bolted and chained when you are inside your home? They will ask you “why?” and if you try to tell them it is to “feel safe” they will retort “from what threat?” And if you persist in explaining that thieves may be encouraged to break- in, they will ask you with puzzlement “why would anyone want to do such a thing?”
In Cambodia you can let your beauty queen wives and lady princess daughters walk to the shop in your taman at night without having to say “jangan malam malam ini, bahaya tahu”.
In Thailand you can go shopping at the malls and leave your purchases at the back of your open pick-up truck and go into the stores again to get a forgotten item and in the meantime till you return no one would lift a single item from the truck. You can also park your motorbikes anywhere at any cycle park, shop front, mall or even outside you home and leave the two helmets hanging on the rear-view mirrors and no one would steal them.
In Vietnam nobody tells you, you cannot carry handbags in a care free manner.
And in case you missed out, do also look out and start counting the number of citizens in all these countries who walk about in their big cities, towns and humble backwaters decked with gold chains, ruby and diamond rings and dangling earrings plus six gold bangles on each hand. You will find them by the scores everyday even in the famous Russian Market (pasar) in Phnom Pehn. 
So who do we blame for the state of affairs as far as crime goes in Malaysia? Maybe we need to have a round of open debate to get to the truth. Or shall we just lump it all on the heads of the rakyat and get on with business as usual?