By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
I really get confused. Is media coverage of criminal incidents overzealous, or we actually have an abundance of crimes that send the number of crime news skyrocketing?
Indeed, we have a fair share of crime news on newspapers nowadays: Young ladies abducted at car parks, house break-ins, murders and kidnappings on the rise.
It doesn't seem that our safety is getting any better.
That said, the police keep assuring the public that those are but isolated cases and statistics show the country's crime rate has fallen 40% over the past two years.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala has said crime incidence under NKRA has been brought down, and the most commonly encountered snatch thefts have decreased by 39%.
He also says the media should focus more on resolved cases instead of constantly stalking new ones.
Media reporting differs from what the government says. Whom should we believe?
As a journalist, I would see it this way:
1. Crime rate has indeed fallen, but newspapers fire up the coverage of criminal incidents. This could be media play-up or exaggeration that could fabricate an illusion of gross insecurity in our society.
2. Crime rate is on the rise, but media coverage remains much the same or even less. The media could be diluting a serious social issue with the objective of painting a peaceful picture of our society.
As such, the right way to handle this matter should be for the media to report what is actually taking place in our midst, handling it in a way proportionate to the severity of the cases while refraining from making up stories.
What I'm trying to say is that the media are tasked with the obligation to reflect the real picture of the society, informing the readers the actual situation of their living environment so that they can make necessary adjustments and take precautions.
For instance, when the newspapers cover the incidence of abduction at public car parks, people will put themselves on alert and young ladies will be constantly self-reminded not to walk to quiet corners alone to retrieve their vehicles.
In addition, mall security and the police will also beef up security and patrols.
If the media could exert its influences among the public, crime incidence could be effectively checked. On the contrary, if we cooperate with the government and paint a rosy picture of our society on the media, more illusions and hallucinations will be spawned.
Government statistics, while not being totally unfounded, could be flawed at times. Some of the figures provided may not always reflect the current situation.
As if that is not enough, undesirable police service and efficiency may also leave many incidents go unreported, creating a false picture of dwindling crime rate.
Instead of emphasising improved crime rate, perhaps we should pursue the true picture and perk up the efficiency of ant-crime measures so that Malaysians will feel truly relieved.