Are we losing the war against crime?


By Mariam Mokhtar

Last Wednesday’s daylight murder in Setapak Central has reignited the debate on the effectiveness of our police in fighting crime.

It does appear that criminals are getting bolder. Wednesday’s shooting occurred in full public view. The victim was sitting in his car waiting for the lights to change at a busy junction. It was reported that no less than 16 shots were fired.

The incident is much talked about due to its dramatic nature. It was certainly tragic, but it was only the latest in a recent series of shootings, muggings, rapes and other violent crimes.

“To read about violent crimes, almost on a daily basis, is deeply troubling,” said a senior Petaling Jaya resident. “What is the explanation for this?”

Another retiree voiced a similar worry. “I am not reassured when the authorities say that the gunmen have nowhere to go and will be hunted down,” he said. “I would like to know how the killers got hold of their guns in the first place. I was under the impression that anyone in possession of a firearm without a permit faces the death penalty.

“There have been so many shootings lately. This suggests that guns are easily available. What is happening about tracking and crippling the supply network? Are the weapons stolen from the police or army? Are they being smuggled through the borders?”

After the Setapak shooting, the police announced that the killers and their accomplices were still in the country, prompting some people to ask, sarcastically, if that was supposed to give the public some kind of reassurance.

“It is more rattling to be told that the killers are still in Malaysia,” said a KL businessmen. “How do they know they are still here? Why not catch them before they flee or kill more people?

“I feel safer in the streets of New York or London than I do at home. I cannot jog in the local parks because the sight of a man on a kapchai fills me with dread. If a Mat Rempit were to stop me when I have nothing of value, he may harm me out of frustration.”

Some people think that the solution is to live in gated communities and to exercise in gyms instead of in the open air. But not everyone can afford to live in a gated community or to pay gym subscriptions.

“Moreover,” said the KL businessman, “there’s a suspicion that some security guards are crooked. They burgle the houses they are supposed to guard. They know the layout of the houses and the occupants’ routines.”

So there’s no escaping the conclusion that the answer to our anxieties lies with our police. They just have to do a better job. – FMT

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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