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Ministers blaming away serious crime concerns

The Najib administration must correct the ‘attitude’ problem of its senior officials, the latest being Pemandu executive director Idris Jala, for dismissing the rising crime rate and blaming it on negative media coverage and public perception.

To combat crime more effectively, the government must reallocate more police personnel to the Crime Investigation Department (CID), which deployed only 9,335 or 9% of the police force as of 2010.

Why do we need 5,102 Special Branch officers to spy on people and 14,551 personnel in the General Operations Force, formed to fight the communists in the jungle?

The government must release the latest breakdown of the police force to engage and convince the public. Instead, the parliamentary question on this by Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong was rejected on the ground of “secrecy”.

A top-down attitude which denounces transparency but instead hopes to mitigate public outcry by controlling the media perhaps explains Idris Jala’s deplorable statement on June 15.

Idris tried to downplay the public concern and blame it on “unfortunate” media coverage, by arguing that even if the number of reported crimes has been reduced by 11.1% to 157,891 reports last year, it would still mean 430 stories a day, and “you can more than fill the entire newspaper with crime.”

As the saying goes, proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the streets are safe, who would complain about crime?

Just a day before Idris’ statement, two women were assaulted by muggers in shopping mall car parks in Kuala Lumpur and an ATM machine was carted away from Subang Jaya Komuter Station.

Coming from the corporate sector, shouldn’t Idris deal with customer dissatisfaction the way any self-respecting company does?

Can any marketing manager keep his/her job if he/she claims that the number of complaints on product quality has dropped by 11.1% and the customers should therefore appreciate the improvement and do not complain further?

PM Najib Razak must introduce real police reforms immediately like reallocating police personnel, decentralising the police force and setting up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

He must do this before more of us get hurt and before the fourth senior official from his administration or the police makes another statement to add insult to injury to those of us who are crime victims.

On June 10, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein insisted that the recent cases of violent crime were isolated and the rising crime rate was a matter of perception.

On June 11, The Police’s Federal Crime Investigation Department (CID) director Mohd Bakri Zinin similarly claimed that rising crime rate was an misperception caused by media coverage.

Wong Chin Huat is a crime victim and steering committee member of Bersih.

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