Restoring public confidence in the police ability to reduce crime and people’s fear of crime top police challenge and priority
- Penang DAP forum on “Busting Crime”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): Penang DAP Wanita is to be commended for organizing this anti-crime forum to help create citizen awareness of two fundamental rights:
This forum is not anti-police or police-bashing event, as the police play a vital and essential role in any ordered and civilized society. The people want an effective and efficient police force, and must co-operate with the police to make the streets, public spaces and homes safe.
The message we want to send out today is the urgent need for far-reaching police reforms to restore public confidence in its capability to reduce the double rise in crime rate and fear of crime, which should be the top police challenge and priority.
The police, from the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai downwards, should take to heart the recent interview of former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar who said that the police failed to meet the new expectations of the people in changing times and to keep abreast with their constitutional demands and the trend of human rights, but is stuck in the colonial mentality of regarding itself as “Tuan” and the people as “subject” completely alien to the ethos of a modern and democratic society. (Mingguan Malaysia 20.7.03)
There are at least five areas for action to restore public confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the police service to reduce crime, the fear of crime and reassure the people about the safety of the streets, public spaces and homes.
Firstly, the restoration of political leadership and responsibility for the delivery of a professional, efficient and effective world-class police service.
The Home Minister should be responsible and answerable to Parliament and the public for the provision of an efficient and effective police service, setting the strategic direction for the police service by laying down objectives and priorities which represent the major public concerns to be adhered to by the police force, subjecting the police to close monitoring and assessment of their performance by Parliament.
In Malaysia, however, the Home Minister and the deputy ministers seem to have surrendered leadership for the police service and abdicated responsibility for the police force, except in special circumstances as in the silencing and detention of political opponents under the Internal Security Act!
A national agenda for the reduction of crime and the fear of crime is not just a police responsibility but also the political responsibility of the government of the day.
Secondly, Parliament must make up for its failures of the past to give proper priority to the important subject of law and order to ensure citizen safety and the right to live and work in a safe environment without fear of crime by having annual debates on the issue, as well as by the establishment of an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee on citizen safety and community security to regularly monitor the performance of the police service.
Thirdly, a Royal Commission of Inquiry to make recommendations for a modern, professional, competent and responsive police force which could deliver quality world-class police service to reduce crime, the fear of crime and reassure the people about the safety of streets, public spaces and the homes – whether by increasing police visibility and accessibility bearing in mind that uniformed officers, working on the streets, maintaining the peace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which are the core of policing; quality police manpower such as the establishment of a National Centre for Policing Excellence to be more effective in crime prevention, detection and conviction; improvement in the pay and working conditions of the police to attract quality recruitment; better deployment of police forces to fight crime instead of regime protection or the more effective use of science, technology and information technology to transform policing to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Fourthly, an annual National Policing Plan, complemented by a local policing plan in every police district, setting out the priorities of policing, how they are to be delivered and the indicators by which performance will be measured. This will be the basis of an annual parliamentary debate, as well as local community debates, on the police service.
Fifthly, the establishment of a National Policing Forum to provide a formal structure to involve the various communities and the civil society, including political parties, NGOs and professional groups, to consider the key elements of the annual national and local policing plans and to monitor their performances.
The police service to provide a safe and secure environment for Malaysians to live, work and play is too important to be left to the police force alone to be its sole concern but should be the joint responsibility of all stakeholders in our society – and this forum seeks to create the national awareness to bring about greater police efficiency, accountability and transparency and meaningful public consultation and participation in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the policing agenda to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman