New and separate
Parliamentary Select Committee to roll back rampant crime wave needed as the
Radzi parliamentary select committee is too narrowly focused on four
specific provisions in the proposed Penal Code and CPC Amendment Bills
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Tuesday): The killing of policeman Kpl Nik Manja Manaf, 40, and the injury of Lance Corporal Razali Abu Bakar in Muar on Saturday night by two robbers must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all Malaysians. The killers must be brought to swift justice.
Tragically, these crimes against policemen-on-duty are also the latest testimony of a runaway law-and-order situation where Malaysians have long lost their fundamental right to personal safety and to feel safe for themselves and their loved ones whether in the streets, public places or privacy of their homes, as evident from the relentless double rise in crime and the fear of crime in recent years.
This was the subject which I discussed with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when I met him in his Putrajaya office last Monday (July 26), asking the government to give top priority to end the runaway crime situation in the country.
Statements by top police officers or Deputy Internal Security Ministers that the crime situation is under control, purportedly because of the improvement of crime statistics, only further undermine public confidence in the commitment and capability of the government and the police to make Malaysia a safe country for all citizens, as they fly in the face of the deepening fear of the people about their personal safety as well as the phenomenon of under-reporting of crimes, particularly snatch thefts.
It is a matter of concern that there is confusion about the best strategy to roll back the crime wave. On Sunday, the media reported that the Prime Minister has ordered the formation of a parliamentary select committee to look into the spate of vicious crimes in the country, asking the select committee to empower the people to help the government to clamp down on criminals.
Was Abdullah referring to the Parliamentary Select Committee set up last month to seek public feedbacks on the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code Amendment Bills to counter sex crimes and terrorism, headed by the Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad?
Or was Abdullah thinking of a completely separate Parliamentary Select Committee to deal with the larger question of rolling back the serious crime wave which has robbed Malaysians of their most fundamental rights to be free from crime and the fear of crime? Nobody seems to really know.
In fact, there is already confusion as to the actual scope and terms of reference of the Select Committee headed by Radzi.
The original intention of the Cabinet decision on May 12, 2004 was for the Select Committee to seek public opinion on the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to deal with sexual violence and crime, in proposing a broader definition of rape, the time allowed for investigations and the police powers of arrest.
When Parliament approved the establishment of the Select Committee to review amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code, it has broadened the subject-matters from sexual offences and status of police investigations to include terrorism.
If the Parliamentary Select Committee is now to deal with the whole spectrum of the problem of rolling back the crime wave, which must involve not only legislation but also police reforms to ensure a world-class police force capable of restoring to Malaysians their lost freedoms from crime and the fear of crime, as well as a National Policing Plan to involve community efforts to fight crime, then it is necessary to amend and expand the terms of reference of the Select Committee to go beyond reviewing the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code contained in the two amendment bills.
Alternatively, a completely separate Parliamentary Select Committee to make recommendations to roll back the rampant crime wave is needed. This is probably the better option as the Radzi parliamentary select committee is too narrowly focused on four specific provisions in the proposed Penal Code and CPC Amendment Bills on sex crimes, status of police investigations and terrorism.
The Cabinet meeting tomorrow should give serious thought to the runaway crime situation in the country, and clarify the confusion on Parliamentary Select Committee deliberations on the subject to send out a clear signal that the government knows what it is doing in the important challenge to make Malaysia a safe country again.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman