Parliament should defer some pending bills to  hold emergency debate on the crisis of confidence on public safety because of the  sharp increase in crime rate and gruesome crimes  highlighted by the Canny Ong abduction-rape-murder case

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaTuesday): The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim said yesterday that he would submit a report on the gruesome Canny Ong  abduction-rape-murder  case to Cabinet although he did not say when he would do so. (Nanyang Siang Pau) 

The question is why Parliament, which is in session, is not having an emergency debate on the crisis of confidence on public safety because of the sharp increase in crime rate and gruesome crimes highlighted by the Canny Ong case. 

The Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should table a Ministerial statement, followed by a wide-ranging parliamentary debate, on what measures the police has taken and should take  to assuage grave and widespread public  concerns  and fears about public safety – which is not confined to Malaysians only as it also extends to foreign investors. 

Apart from the Constitution Amendment Bill, which Parliament will dispose of today, there is not a single bill which could be more  important than the public crisis of confidence on law and order arising from the phenomenal increase of crime rate in the country – to the extent that one OCPD frankly admitted  that he has stopped jogging in his own police district.  

If necessary, all other bills should be postponed to the next parliamentary meeting to allow MPs to give top priority to address and debate the grave crisis of confidence on public safety and police enforcement  in the country, and to enhance the sense of public safety for all Malaysians. 

After the Canny Ong case, the latest in a series of grave crimes involving murders, rapes, robberies and thefts, women are worried about their personal safety and men worried about the safety of women when out in public places. 

Early this year, the  Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Ong Ka Ting, had proposed  that shopping and office complexes with multi-level parking lots should  employ security guards and install close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to enhance security, but nothing came out of these proposals. 

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. In the past three years, the crime rate has worsened with many urban centres, in particular Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, becoming “black areas” for crime. 

The public outrage  and concern caused by the gruesome crimes perpetrated on Canny Ong cannot be assuaged by just focusing on shopping complexes  being required to install CCTVs as what is urgently needed is a comprehensive review and survey of the failure in police enforcement to ensure basic public security as evident from  the relentless increase in the crime rate in the country,  as Malaysia must not degenerate into a situation where no one feels safe any more when  going out publicly or picking a car in the parking lot. 

Something is very wrong about the order of priorities of the police when they can mobilize hundreds of personnel to deal with peaceful assemblies and protests which threaten no breach of law and order, while they cannot protect the ordinary citizens, especially girls and women, from the most diabolical of crimes whether in public places or  in the privacy of their homes.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman