National Social Policy launch another illustration that in Barisan Nasional government, the right hand often does not know what the left hand is doing

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaWednesday): The launch of the National Social Policy by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday provided another illustration that in the Barisan Nasional Government, the right hand often does not know what the left hand is doing.

In launching the National Social Policy under  which community service centres will be opened in “high-risk” areas, Abdullah said the country had to balance its rapid economic growth with moral and societal values with the rise  in social ills in the country, such as the increasing number of cases of child abuse, abandoned babies, rapes, murders, incest, juvenile crime, drug addiction, vandalism, gangsterism and domestic violence.

This message of concern at the rise in social ills, however, is completely at odds with the statement by the police last week quoting Interpol in claiming that Malaysia is “one of the safest countries in the world” on the ground that  the  crime rate in Malaysia is among the lowest in the world with an average of 730 cases for every 100,000 people in the country.

Malaysians were told that last year, 178,972 cases were reported to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) who succeeded in solving 49.73 per cent of the cases, much higher than the 20 per cent target set by Interpol.

If Malaysia is so safe, then Abdullah must have been wrongly advised to launch a National Social Policy partly based on the double rise in the crime rate and fear of crime.

In actual  fact, the police statement last week was meaningless, irresponsible and insensitive in totally ignoring the highest level of public  concern about the double rise in crime rate and fear of crime in the nation’s history. 

The police should not indulge in the game of statistics with the citizenry on law and order, completely ignoring the fact that the Malaysian Quality of Life Index 2002 prepared by the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister's Department, surveying the 11-year period from 1990 to 2000, reported a  sharp fall in the public safety index with the crime rate measured by crimes per thousand population almost doubling  from 3.8 in 1990 to 7.1 in 2,000 – with the situation having got worse instead of better in the past three years.

Last month,  the CID Director Comm Datuk Seri Salleh Mat Som disclosed that just in the first five months of the year, an average of four women were raped daily while there were three murders every two days in the country, with Selangor, Johore and Kedah topping the list. 

From the crime index for the first six months of the year, the incidence of rape, crime and  violent crimes have worsened as compared for the same period last year, as shown below: 

Crime Index (January – June) 

Serious crime                      2002               2003
Murder                                278                 293
Attempted Murder                  34                   42
Firearm robberies (gang)         45                   31
Armed robberies (gang)         847              1,053
Firearm robberies                 243                 214
Armed robberies                5,764               7,561
Rape                                  684                 703
Causing hurt                     2,246              2,252
Total                              10,141            12,149

These crime statistics are subject to the proviso that in some instances, like rape, reported cases are as low as 10 per cent of the actual  incidence. 

The National Social Policy, if it is be meaningful, must address the grave social concerns at the  double rise in the crime rate and the fear of crime.  The National Social Council which has been formed should initiate a public debate  to facilitate police-community co-operation and  innovative ideas to combat the double rise of crime rate and fear of crime in Malaysia.

It should call for 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 could  be measured, such as police:population ratio, police efficiency,  reduction in the number as well as incidence of serious crimes like murder, rape and robbery at the national, state and district level.  This should  be the basis for  an annual debate, in Parliament, the State Assemblies, the media as well as at  local community levels, on the progress of an effective and meaningful  national social policy to improve the quality of life of Malaysians by reducing  crime and the fear of crime.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman