Why are there 82,000 police personnel, including those off-duty, to issue traffic summons but no 82,000 police personnel to fight crime and reduce the fear of crime?
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The establishment of a Royal Commission to review the police force in totality is a feather in the cap of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his first two months as the new Prime Minister, but it is only the first step in the long road of police reforms and modernization to fully restore public confidence in the police to provide security and protection to the citizenry and community.
The Malaysian Quality of Life 2002 Report issued by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department last year on the progress and trends in national development for the period 1990 to 2000 admitted a deterioration in the “Public Safety Index” in the Malaysian Quality of Life Index (MQLI 2000), using 1990 as the base year. The Public Safety Index fell by 16.01 points in the ten-year period.
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.
One question all Malaysians are asking is why there are 82,000 police personnel, including those off-duty, to issue traffic summons but no 82,000 police personnel to fight crime and reduce the fear of crime of Malaysians?
In the wake of the public outrage at the gruesome and brutal abduction-rape-murder of Canny Ong in June this year, police officers were on the defensive about the double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime and the failure of the police to make the streets, public spaces and homes safe from crime for Malaysians to work, play and live free from the fear about their security
Malaysians were told that out of the 82,000 police personnel, only 6,000 were involved in fighting crimes and out of this small number, half were engaged in investigation work.
Can the new Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar explain why there are 82,000 police personnel, including those off-duty, to issue traffic summons but no 82,000 police personnel to fight crime and reduce the fear of crime of Malaysians?
This is a matter which the Royal Commission should examine, and the empowering of 82,000 police personnel, including those off-duty and involved with desk-work, to issue traffic summons should be suspended until a thorough study had been made as there is already the beginning of an avalanche of public complaints about abuses of power and fears of creating new openings for corrupt practices from such a new ruling
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 the streets, public spaces and the homes had been one of the long-standing calls of the DAP.
This was one of the five DAP proposals to restore public confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime presented at the DAP public forum on “The lesson from Canny Ong case: Reduce Crime and the Fear of Crime” in Petaling Jaya on July 12, 2003.
The Cabinet tomorrow should consider the other four proposals for a modern, professional, competent and responsive police force:
It will be a grave mistake and misjudgment to regard a Royal Commission on the police as a magic cure for a modern, efficient, effective and responsive police service when it is only one of the many steps that must taken together if there is the political will to transform the Malaysian police force into a quality world-class service.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman