By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
When it comes to the question of how to reduce crime, the general approach would be to increase patrols to enhance security. However, it has neglected the impacts of economic policies and social structure on public security.
To strengthen the government's efforts in reducing crime, the Home Ministry set up a team formed by high-ranked police officers and Pemandu's representatives. However, sociologists and economists should be invited to join the team to get new ideas.
Having road blocks, closing down streets or stationing more security guards at shopping malls can indeed deter robbers, but these are only short-term strategies. They must still start from improving social structure to effectively reduce crime in the long-run.
The government transformed the agricultural economy into industrial economy since the 1980s and it should have prepared to face the complexity of social structure, particularly when they introduced the labour-intensive industry without control.
Malaysia is having a small population and we lack labours. Therefore, we are forced to bring in a large number of foreign workers from Southeast Asia countries in early days, and even from India, Pakistan Bangladesh and other countries today. Many industries are also allowed to hire foreign workers, including laundry and barber shops.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also promoted the regional educational hub programme. As a result, private colleges mushroomed and a large number of African students came to study in Malaysia under the concept of South-South Cooperation. Currently, there are more than 90,000 foreign students in the country.
In view of economic needs, the immigration policy has been gradually relaxed over the past 30 years, including issuing visas on arrival for short-stay foreign tourists. Unfortunately, mismanagement has resulted in the excessive number of foreigners. It complicates the society and directly threatens social order.
Foreign workers murdered employers, fake students use false documents to overstay and commit crimes, and international syndicates set up footholds here. This is the cost of pursuing the policy of depending on foreigners.
In terms of social structure, when a simple agricultural society is transformed into an industrial society, some people might be confused in terms of morality and values. From the abuse of drugs to silent culture and illegal motorcycle racing, the society has been deteriorating. And from the acts of self-harming to causing harm to the society, we can see that anti-society has become the self-proclamation of young people who have got lost.
Educational failure, broken families and the distortion of social values have confused some people. When people prioritise money over dignity, who will still care about whether the source of money is legitimate? For them, branded stuffs are more important than anything else and thus, it contributes to evil acts like robbery.
Why are robbers so brutal? Are they driven by drugs? Or is it the deterioration of human nature? Are these robbers from violent families? The authorities must conduct in-depth studies over these questions.
There are also reasons behind the high crime rates in cities. The high cost of living in urban areas has caused a serious wealth disparity. Urban poverty is perhaps one of the factors of crime growth.
The expenses for basic needs in urban areas are more than double compared to rural areas. Housing prices alone have almost suffocated the poor and therefore, the government should provide them adequate social safety nets.
All in all, the rising crime rate is not a result of a single factor. It requires about a decade to eradicate the root of the problem, including adjusting economic policies. The question is, are Malaysians patient enough to wait for it?