Abdullah should direct the publication of weekly report of the daily incidence of crime and road accidents for the period as the first step to address the worsening Public Safety Index in the country
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): The Malaysian Quality of Life 2002 Report issued by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Ministerís Department last year analyzed the progress and trends in national development for the period 1990 to 2000, using 1990 as the base year. The Malaysian Quality of Life Index (MQLI 2000), which is based on eleven areas, found that except for public safety, all other areas improved, with working life and housing recording the most significant increases of 19.1 points and 16.3 points respectively. In contrast, the Public Safety Index fell by 16.01 points during the ten-year span.
The Public Safety Index is measured by two sub-indices: - (i) crimes per thousand population and (ii) road accidents per thousand vehicles. The crime rate increased from 3.8 in 1990 to 7.1 in 2000 with more than four-fifths of the crimes related to property. Road accidents per thousand vehicles increased from 19.4 in 1990 to 21 in 2000. Almost half of the road accidents involved motor-cycles.
In the past three years since the MQLI 2000, both sub-indices of the Public Safety Index had worsened considerably, marked on the one hand by the double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime where Malaysians had lost their most basic human right to security and to live without fear about their safety and that of their loved ones, whether in the streets, public places or in the privacy of their homes. On the other hand, the high incidence of road accidents, fatalities and injuries have made Malaysia one of the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of road safety.
In this connection, it is most disturbing that despite the personal concern of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi about the unacceptably high road carnage in the country, the police had discontinued its Ops Sikap campaign during the Christmas and New Year holidays to create greater public awareness of the high incidence of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities during the national festive periods.
Last year for instance, after the 15-day Ops Sikap III between Nov. 29 and Dec. 13 for the Hari Raya holidays, which recorded 12,239 accidents with an average of 816 accidents daily and 285 fatalities, the police launched Ops Sikap III (Phase 2) for the Christmas and New Year holidays between Dec. 21 and January 6 this year, while Ops Sikap IV was launched between January 25 to Feb. 8 for the Chinese New Year holidays.
I had criticised the authorities for its short span of attention on the high traffic accident, fatalities and injuries rate focused only on the national holidays when the daily average of the road carnage is not very different from that recorded during the national holidays, as an average of 16.5 people died in road crashes in the country every day, with motor-cyclists, pillion-riders and pedestrians representing over 70 per cent of the casualties.
However, my criticism over the lack of a sustained campaign to combat the high traffic accident and fatalities rate in the country is not a criticism against any high-profile police campaigns like the Ops Sikap series during the national holidays, but a criticism of the authorities for failing to make it a round-the-year campaign, so that public awareness and consciousness to reduce the high but preventable traffic accident, fatalities and injuries rates in the country become a daily national concern, preoccupation and even obsession, as reflected in media coverage and monitoring, and not just three times a year during the Hari Raya, Christmas/New Year and Chinese New Year holidays.
It is clearly a step backwards that instead of extending national road safety campaigns like Ops Sikap into a sustained year-long affairs, they are terminated even during the national festive periods, just because the recent Ops Sikap V for the Hari Raya holiday period was a failure as compared to Ops Sikap III in terms of traffic fatalities.
The police should explain the reason for terminating the Ops Sikap campaign with daily reporting of traffic accidents and fatalities during the current Christmas/New Year holidays and whether this termination will also apply to the forthcoming Chinese New Year holiday period.
The cancellation of the Ops Sikap campaign during the current Christmas/New Year period is badly advised and should be revoked. The police should release the daily incidence of road carnage in terms of accidents, injuries and fatalities for the Christmas week in the period between December 21 to 28 this year, as compared to the similar statistics for last year, as well as for the New Year week.
In fact, Abdullah should direct the police to be more forthcoming in sharing information with the Malaysian public by ensuring the publication of a weekly report of the daily incidence of crime and road accidents for the period as the first step to address the worsening Public Safety Index in the country.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman