The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is concerned over a recent media report about the increasing number Mat Rempit with the potential to pose a threat to national security.
This concern is shared by the Traffic Division of Bukit Aman, especially since an increasing number of youths below the age of 15 years are getting involved with the groups. The situation has become increasingly critical of late with many Mat Rempit ‘graduating' to more heinous crimes such as violence, robberies and snatch thefts, rape and murder.
Despite views that the government should have taken preemptive action against Mat Rempit during the formative stages and not now when they are openly marauding, it is only appropriate that the aggressive and proactive efforts by the government in handling this social ill are applauded by all.
According to Interpol, the crime rate for every 100,000 Malaysian citizens as compared to citizens of Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom is at an acceptable level. Despite this, statistics from PDRM show an alarming increase of 209,388 crime cases in 2006 to 224,298 cases in 2007.
Of this, the number of violent crimes increased from 44,016 in 2006 to 49,897 in 2007. Property-related crime increased from 165, 372 in 2006 to 174,401. The number of rape cases also increased from 2,454 in 2006 to 3,177 last year; an increase of 723 cases or 29.46 percent.
Unarmed group robberies increased to 4,344 or by 159.53 per cent last year compared to the same period in 2006. A total of 7,067 cases were reported in 2007 as opposed to 2,723 in 2006.
The number of extortions also increased by 21.20 percent whereas cases of grievous hurt (Section 324/326) increased by 16.48 percent.
Nevertheless, there was a reduction in the number of murder cases - 606 in 2006 to 588 in 2007 or by 2.97 percent. Unarmed robberies also decreased to 17,241 in 2007 from 19,467 in 2006 while cases of armed robbery decreased by 248 in 2006 to 202 in 2007.
In 2007, Selangor led in the country's crime rate with a total of 15,104 cases followed by Kuala Lumpur with 7,639 cases and Johor with 6,900 cases.
A local media report in December 2005 exposed the existence of punk groups such as ‘Punk Rock', ‘Hardcore Punk', ‘Chaos Punk', ‘Pop Punk', Punk Hop', ‘Skaters Punk' and ‘Metal Punk' with a following of between 5,000 to 6,000 members in the Klang Valley. This does not include the other members throughout the country which may reach a total of 10,000 members.
Our Prime Minister Najib Razak while still the deputy prime minister then, stated that more than 83,000 students across the country, ranging from primary school to Form five had failed to meet the basic requirements of our schooling system and had dropped out.
This has to be viewed very seriously as these ex-students have the potential to become involved in Mat Rempit activities. They need to be counseled or provided with alternatives such as training in vocational skills before they become prey to Mat Rempit gangs.
CAP supports Najib's call for the introduction of vocational training into our schooling system as early as primary school with the aim of reducing the number of dropouts - about 83,000 students translate into two percent of the entire student population.
According to a study on secondary school dropouts by the Education Planning and Research Division of the Ministry of Education in May 1996, the number of secondary school dropouts totaled 87,410 students or 7.97 percent of the entire populace between 1992 and 1993.
The average drop out rate is 1.99 percent and usually occurs between Form 3 and Form 4 consisting mostly of male students (9.61 percent) as opposed to female students (6.34 percent). The survival rate for cohorts between the years 1989 to 1993 was 68.01 percent.
With the realisation that these issues and social problems will eventually destabilise the nation and the governments efforts to promote a moralistic, caring, tolerant, progressive and fair society in line with its aim of Vision 2020, the government has legislated the National Social Policy (NSP). The NSP aims to promote social progress based on noble values and intrinsic human qualities and to establish unity, social stability, assertion of nationalism and the progress and prosperity of Malaysian society.
The question now is what has happened to the NSP? The National Social Council ought to have played a crucial role in implementing the strategies outlined in the NSP but the Council seems to have been very ‘lethargic' with regards to this moral issue.
CAP also urges the Home Ministry and the Ministry for Housing and Local Government to study the efficacy of the ‘Safe City' concept as the objective of such a city does not seem to have achieved its objectives, given the present crime rates.
CAP urges the government to establish a free commission to study and establish a comprehensive strategy to handle crime in the country. This commission would also play an important part in enhancing the crime prevention efforts of the police.
In fact, it is time for the government to review the core values and even the efficacy of programmes such as ‘One Family, One Counselor' and ‘My Home, My Heaven', which were formulated to handle our social issues.
More importantly, the Government needs to stop dilly-dallying with soft approaches towards the Mat Rempit menace and declare an all out war against these violent hooligans.
The writer is president, Consumers Association of Penang.