By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Home Ministry and the police attach great importance to the people's perception perceiving that the crime rate has increased, as it relates to the effectiveness of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA), politics and votes.
Home Minister has repeatedly stressed that there is no increase in crime rate and the police has released the latest data. The national crime rate and street crime rate dropped by 10.1% and 43% respectively in the first five months of the year compared to the same corresponding period. In December 2011, people in fear of becoming victims of crime dropped to 52.9% from 56.4% in October the same year. Also, public satisfaction with the police increased to 70.5% compared to the 65.3% in October.
The BN coalition suffered a setback in the 2008 general election and the increase of crime rate was one of the reasons. Therefore, crime reduction has been included in the NKRA.
Police officers were stationed at crime spots while the Operasi Payung was launched in the early stage. The actions taken had indeed made the people feel safer. However, frequent robberies in shopping malls around Klang Valley areas recently have worried the public.
People like to spend time in shopping malls to feel the lively atmosphere and take a look at new things. Besides, shopping malls are safe. However, one after another woman was attacked and robbed at shopping malls' parking lots, triggering hot discussions in the civil society, including on Facebook. The discussions draw a conclusion that even shopping malls are no longer safe nowadays.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Minister Department and Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala said that the sharing or retweeting functions on social media sites allow news to go viral, forming a wrong perception that crime is rife.
Such an argument is similar to the government's accusation against the CNN years ago, claiming that the repeatedly reported negative news in Malaysia had led outsiders think that the law and order in Malaysia was poor.
Is the increase of crimes only a matter of perception? Let's look at a few examples. Endoscopy machines at three hospitals were stolen recently, proving that hospitals have also become targets. Three car snatchers were nabbed after they faked a road accident and snatched a policewoman's car in Klang two days ago, showing that even police officers have become victims.
These crimes are not fabricated by newspapers and therefore, it shows signs of the "denial syndrome" to say the increase of crimes is just a matter of perception.
The police knows that it must curb crimes in shopping malls to stop public and online discussions. Therefore, the KL police set up a special group and at the same time, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) also developed the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) guidelines and approached 15 car parks in the Klang Valley with the highest number of crime occurrences for a pilot project to improve security.
However, a special group might not be enough and the police needs to deploy additional manpower to monitor released detainees. Recently, a few former detainees were found to have involved in crimes. A suspect involved in the assault and robbery in the Mid Valley car park and another suspect involved in snatching the policewoman car were both former detainees under the Emergency Ordinance.
In short, the crime rate shows that Malaysia is a very safe country but the data must be persuasive, or there would be a cognitive gap between the government and the civil society.