Are Malaysians getting used to gunshot murders?

On April 26 this year, Deputy Director General of Customs, Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim was shot dead in Putrajaya. Last week, Chairman of MyWatch R.Sri Sanjeevan was shot at close range in Jempol, Negeri Sembilan and is in critical condition in a hospital. Early this week founder of Arab Malaysian Bank, Hussain Ahmad Najadi was shot dead in Lorong Ceylon here.

Kurniawati Kamarudin, Bernama

Murder cases involving parang and other sharp weapons used to be a hot topic in the past, as these incidents were seen as “unusual” crimes and given much space and debate in the local media.

Then these incidents became more rampant and regular, with at least one such murder case reported in a week, which fuelled more hot discussions and also fear among the people in their otherwise safe streets.

Today, such cases are seen as nothing unusual and very much in the same perspective as a snatch theft, motorcycle robbery and muggings.

These crimes have become almost a part of life with many of them already “anaesthetised” to such events and no longer having the kind of curiosity or rage to know more about the incidents like it used to be in the past.

Of late however, Malaysians have been cornered with another new crime trend — murder by gunshots. It will not be off the mark to say that most Malaysians are used to seeing or hearing the sounds of gunshots only in the television and never before in their very own streets.

While in the past, murder by gunshot was more rare, with isolated cases reported here and there. These past few months, however, this latest style of crime has become major news in the country.

This is not only bringing out huge debates in the media and social networks but is also shaking Malaysians’ very sense of safety and security.

On April 26 this year, Deputy Director General of Customs, Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim was shot dead in Putrajaya. Last week, Chairman of MyWatch R.Sri Sanjeevan was shot at close range in Jempol, Negeri Sembilan and is in critical condition in a hospital. Early this week founder of Arab Malaysian Bank, Hussain Ahmad Najadi was shot dead in Lorong Ceylon here.

While these victims are in the high profile cases, there have been a spate of fatal shootings involving more ordinary citizens, warranting some serious attention in this growing crime trend.

A change in trend

So, seriously, what is happening?

A statement by Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said among other factors, the increasing number of high crimes, particularly armed murders, were being carried out by former inmates of the Simpang Renggam jail who had been released following the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance.

There is indication that the crimes have been conducted by hired gunmen. The hired assassins may be executing the crime for money, but what about the ones who are hiring them, what are their motives?

Revenge, anger, dissatisfaction, rivalry may be behind these cases, said Personal Security Consultant and a member of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) Master Saiful Hamiruzzaman.

“These crimes can be easily carried out now. When someone is not satisfied with something, they just hire someone to do the killing for them. Looking at the pattern of these murders, the victims are obviously the targeted enemies,” he told Bernama.

This differs from the usual cases of armed robberies, where if the robbers don’t get what they want, they would just let loose and shoot anyone within their range.

Nevertheless, these crimes have not reached a state that requires pushing an emergency button for the general public, he opined, adding that the crimes so far indicated that the targets were mainly high profiled personalities.

This, however, does not mean that people can actually sigh a relief, as can be seen, the crime can happen to anyone, he said.

“Sometimes such murders can happen over a very small matter. For example a traffic accident where one car has scratched another car and a quarrel ensues with both parties throwing insults at each other.

“One party may remain angry and decide to take revenge. The party may just take note of the other party’s face and take down the person’s car number as well and then later hire a third party to do “something” including even murder.

This can happen and is not an impossible thing.”

Murder trends

These murders however, are seen pointing towards a phenomenon where shootings could end up being seen as a common event in the society.

If we can consider some of the crimes today as common when once they could have been rare occurrences and something truly frightening, there is a possible danger that one day assassinations by the gun, a hot topic now, may end up being categorised as another common crime in few years time.

On the ways the recent murders have been executed meanwhile, many are said to be clearly not the work of professionals.

The pattern is the same, the criminal rides on a motorcycle and uses a black helmet with fully tinted glasses, and follows the target. Once at the traffic light, he pulls the gun out and shoots at the target.

In many of the cases, more than one shot has been fired at the victims. “This shows that those involved are not really trained as sharp shooters.

Some of them have fired their shots randomly as in the case in Ipoh where three of the victims were having their drinks outside a restaurant which resulted in one person being killed and the other two injured,” Master Saiful said.

“There is always the possibility that a non-target could have ended up as the victim and that is something to worry about.”

Staying away from criminal

Perhaps nothing can be done if a stranger suddenly pulls up close and pulls out a gun and shoots at a target. In such a situation there are only two possibilities — death or injury.

However, individuals who feel that they have enemies, should take precautionary measures to avoid becoming victims such as avoiding high traffic areas like entertainment outlets and so on, Master Saiful suggested.

For instance, when approached by a stranger, it is important for the individual to just ignore and not give them a clear view of their faces as the criminals would be able to easily identify them for their criminal intent later on.

It is also important to be conscious at all times and to also follow one’s natural instinct and to avoid being near motorcycles where both the rider and pylon rider are covered in helmets with fully tinted glass.

“At a traffic light, those who feel they are being followed, they should take a left turn instead of going straight. This will also allow them to avoid accidents should they want to keep the distance from a suspicious character.

“Meanwhile, should one be approached be a suspicious character while walking, move away to a distance of four-feet, make a turn and run in a zig zag manner.

“Should the criminal start shooting while the individual is running, it will be difficult for him to focus as the person is not running in a straight line and hence the risk of becoming a victim is further reduced.”

Stay alert

Malaysians tend to quickly forget. As soon as a crime gets resolved by the police, people tend to take it easy and relax.

They tend to soon forget and get back being comfortable and drop their defences whether it is about being careful of their own safety, the safety of their family members or community.

Master Saiful said it was also timely for the government to consider adding a special subject on crime prevention beginning from the primary school level.

It would teach students very early on crime prevention. Such learning will help them stay away from crime, and not become victims and also learn on ways to counter crimes.

“We may not be able to completely get rid of crimes, but a generation that has a high awareness of crime will certainly be in a better position to help the country overcome crimes,” he added.