BANGKOK, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- The forthcoming general election (GE) and the public perception on the crime rate in Malaysia were the two common topics discussed over the past one month during Hari Raya open houses back home.
Many tried to predict when the GE would be held. October, November or December? Maybe, in January next year, when the current government's term expires in March, they wondered.
While touching on the crime rate in Malaysia, the general perception is that it is at a 'worrying' level -- although police statistics and international peace report indicate otherwise.
Generally, they feel that the statistics did not reflect the actual situation on the ground.
According to police statistics, the crime index dropped by 11.1 per cent and street crime by nearly 50 per cent since 2010, when the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) was introduced.
The Global Peace Index last year positioned Malaysia as the safest country in Southeast Asia and 19th safest in the world.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the police were not in a state of denial when battling with the public perception on the crime rate in the country.
"Yes, I understand the public want more, even though the crime rate has been reduced. We accept it as a challenge," he told Bernama in an interview here.
Police analyses, he said, found that people were fearful of crime because they shared a lot stories on crime in the current IT world.
"Actually, people talk a lot about crime, using their social media and not because there are lots of crime cases.
"For example, a victim of crime would tell his or her experiences through the SMS (short messaging service), Facebook and other social media channels. So, the people have the perception that lots of crime cases are occurring nowadays," he said.
However, their stories ended there without explaining what the police had done to solve the case, noted Ismail.
"The police's success stories in solving crimes are not (often) told. People do not tell the other side of the stories when the police manage to solve their problems.
"Such phenomena (inadvertently) leads to the belief that Malaysia is no longer safe," he said.
Ismail said the police needed to change their approaches by engaging with the public, through social media, too.
"Bad news travels fast. We need to disseminate good news as fast as possible, too," he said.
Malaysia's police chief said he had directed his officers to engage immediately with crime victims to explain actions which had been taken and would be taken by the police, in solving their cases.
Ismail said the police had taken more than 20 initiatives, including joint street patrols with soldiers, Civil Defence Department and Rela in 2010 and last year, to bring down the crime rate in the country.
"However, criminals have changed their modus operandi and focus their criminal activities in house-breaking and shopping malls, following police success in combating street crime.
"The (criminal) trend (has) changed because of our past success. It is not the question that the street crime rate was incorrect but the criminal activities have changed," he reasoned.