SARAWAK FOCUS: It’s time the authorities take proactive measures to keep the peace and security in Sibu and elsewhere in Sarawak.
Those in denial mode should no longer offer excuses to not respond accordingly to the revelation on Sept 23 that Sibu is the hotspot of gangsterism in the state.
Coming from Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh, this revelation does not speak well for a town of barely 100,000 people.
Even if the gangsterism is “localised” in nature, in Mohamad’s own words, “It is crucial to round up these gangsters now, before they spread and increase in number.”
Before Wednesday’s revelation, late last year Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail went to great lengths in assuring the local populace that Sibu only had thug gangs, not organised gangs.
“Secret societies are organised. They have a leader and even a financial controller or an accountant. And they have fighters whom the leaders can send out to accomplish their mission,” he was quoted as saying.
He said those wanting to join the gang organisations would have to pay a protection fee and go through a ritual. The organisations also have a set of rules for their followers, and those who break a rule would be severely punished.
“In Sibu, we do not have such organisations. The local thug gangs are what the people refer to as “Pai Kia”, but they are not members of secret societies.”
According to him, the Pai Kia are people who get together for crimes, including violent crimes and that while they have a leader, they do not have a set of rules or ceremony or elements linked with secret societies.
Needless to say, organised or not, peace-loving citizens would want nothing less than the assurance that they are safe, their wives and children are safe and their businesses are safe 24 hours.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, which is why fences are higher and thicker, homes are built like prisons, with grills and padlocks that probably would unnerve even master illusionist David Copperfield.
I don’t believe that Senior Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and his family have been sleeping soundly since their home in Sibu was made a shooting target last month.
What assurance can they have that the next time the guns would not be pointed at them instead of their glass windows? Which brings to mind the gangland-style shooting to death of a Miri businessman on July 30. He was shot point-blank on a busy intersection.
Miri City Mayor Lawrence Lai is probably still shaken by this July 22 anonymous SMS: “Are you afraid of guns? … The next target is you.”
Before that, on July 12, a gunman fired a shotgun at a group of men drinking outside a Kuching coffeeshop. Ang Soon Heng, 31, who was struck on the left side of his head, died a day later. Another patron took some stray pellets on his body, but was lucky to escape death
Of course, the police will have to take the lead in the fight against crimes, whether or not they are organised. But we know that without public support, their effectiveness will be compromised, hence the role of the local authorities, Rela, NGOs and the community at large.
In fact, Sibu has not done too badly in its effort to keep crime down. With the Sibu Urban Surveillance System in place, the town has done what many metropolis around the world have been doing to prevent crimes.
It is indeed time that this system is adopted in all the state’s cities and major towns. If the streets and back lanes are under camera surveillance, it would take a hard core criminal or a person under heavy drug influence to want to commit crime.
There’s no telling when a criminal will strike, but almost always, lax security is an invitation.
Be reminded, a forced entry may just a break-in but it could also mean lost savings and a family’s plan to send their child to pre-school derailed.
A ride-by snatch case might just involve a laptop computer, but lost data could very well affect a whole business conglomerate.
Crime, however way you categorise it, big or small, is still a crime.