To ensure that Canny Ong had not died in vain, DAP calls for a Commission on Public Security and Citizen Safety to report on the rise in crime rate, widespread public fear of crime and mechanisms for civilian oversight on greater police efficiency and professionalism to make public places safe again
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): To ensure that Canny Ong had not died in vain in the horrific crime of abduction-rape-murder, DAP calls for a high-powered Commission on Public Security and Citizen Safety to report on the rise in crime rate, widespread public fear of crime and mechanisms for civilian oversight on greater police efficiency and professionalism to make public places safe again.
The announcement by the Minister for the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim that the Cabinet last week had approved amendments to the Penal Code that will increase the maximum sentence for rape and incest to 30 years and to allow for those aged above 50 years does not address directly the crisis of confidence in citizen security arising from grave and widespread concerns about the deteriorating state of public security because of rising crime rate in the streets, public places and even privacy of the home..
There is a distinct danger that after the climax of public outrage at the heinous crime of abduction, rape and murder of Canny Ong with her funeral yesterday, public interest about citizen security and the need to banish the fear of crime from public places cannot be sustained and would begin to wane until it is aroused by the perpetration of another atrocious crime for another round of “five-minute outrage”.
This is not good enough. The statement by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung that the government wants the police force to be beefed up with more personnel and better equipment to combat rising crime is not re-assuring at all, as the Home Ministry had been very complacent despite the drastic fall in the public safety index in the past decade, with the crime rate measured by crimes per thousand population almost doubling from 3.8 in 1990 to 7.1 in 2,000, and worsening in the past three years.
The gravity of the situation and the complacency of the police authorities could be gauged by the helpless response from the OCPD of an urban district to complaints of increasing crime rate, who admitted that it had become so serious that he had stopped his morning joggings because it was not safe any more.
Malaysians are entitled to demand that public security and citizen safety should be restored to a position where not only OCPDs, but ordinary citizens, do not have to skip their morning joggings because of the fear of crime.
At present, government responses to the Canny One case is primarily confined to just better safety and security at complexes in the city, such as mandatory closed circuit television (CCTV) in underground carparks, enough security personnel, patrols, better lightings and alarm systems, when it should be a comprehensive approach to restore to Malaysians the right of ordinary citizens to live in a secure environment without the stifling fear of crime.
Parliament is supposed to be the most important mechanism to exercise citizen oversight on police efficiency and professionalism to combat crime and eliminate the widespread fear of crime among the people whether in public places or in the privacy of their homes, but it has failed terribly in this regard as evident from its failure in its recent two-week meeting to even address the Canny Ong abduction-rape-murder outrage.
A blue-ribbon commission of eminent Malaysians should be appointed to conduct nation-wide hearings to allow Malaysians from all walks of life to give voice to their fears about mounting crime and their demands for the restoration of an environment of public security, and to make recommendations on the measures that should be taken by the government and the nation to roll back the rising crime rate in the country.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman