Friday, 17 August 2012

Safety isnt just a slogan, It is a way of life

The edited version is at the Star:-

Below is the unedited version of the article

An unknown author once said that “Safety isn’t just a Slogan, It’s a Way of Life”.

In recent times, news of violent crimes, injuries to victims, robberies and many other incidents of criminal activities have been reported at every possible form of media. Speak to anyone living in the city and chances are that person will share with you his or her feeling of insecurity in that city.

In the major cities of Malaysia, criminal activities and being victim of a crime is slowly but terribly becoming a fashion of life. Friends and family members whenever they meet up, will more often than not, share of who was robbed, who was attacked and sometimes worst, who was killed.

This is a REAL issue, not one of perception, not one of statistics, but a the REAL feeling of insecurity.

If one should form a new Nation; law and order would be the paramount ingredient in the creation of the new Nation. Law and order is important to give the citizens the feeling and the knowledge that the system will protect them and ensure that crime is prevented as much as possible. Further, in any new Nation, law and order will ensure that should crime happen, the system will do its best for justice to prevail.

A system which provides strong security and safety for the people breeds confidence amongst its citizens.

Unfortunately, in Malaysia, with respect to our system, it is found wanting. Reports of accused in criminal trials being acquitted for technical points, is often seen. Reports of citizens being victim of crimes which remain unsolved, are often heard. What can we do and what shall we do?

Perhaps it has come to a point where we cannot pull the wool over our eyes anymore. Our nation’s Security and Justice system needs an overhaul and I believe this government has the resources and the capability to reform the system. It now only needs political will to do so.

Where do we start? What do we reform? What are the solutions we look for?

One example to start of with would be the Royal Commission of Inquiry of 2005 which proposed reforms in the police force. We can adopt the proposed reforms there.

Other reforms would include the accurate education to send the message that the correct mindset ought to be “Don’t Rob”, “Don’t Rape” and/or “Don’t Attack.”

We do our best so that we “Don’t get Robbed”, “Don’t get Raped” and/or “Don’t get Attacked” but surely the citizens can only do so much to protect themselves.

For too long, we read in reports of our authorities telling us that we should not carry a large handbag or dress in a short skirt or allow ourselves to be attacked. These advise are acceptable but the crux of the problem is not the failure of the victim to be careful; but the audacity of the criminal to carry out the criminal activity. 

There is no doubt that Malaysians are a careful lot. Take a drive around the city and see how many houses are double locked and how many cars are steering-locked. Take a ride with a lady in the car and see how she hides her handbag and vigilantly looks left and right whenever she is at a traffic light to be careful so that no motorcyclist will stop by and smash her glass to steal her bag.

But the focus ought not and should not be on the potential victims. The focus ought to be always on the potential criminal. Stop the criminal, and we stop the crime.

Our nations security administrators have and must continue to take proactive steps to ensure the people are confident that their safety is well taken care of.

Of course the citizens are not silly, we can never expect a zero crime rate. There will always be crime, we know that. But the key would be for the system to strive crime rates as low as possible.

What about the Police, the frontier of the Nation’s Security system?

The people, for too long, have questioned the police force and alleged that many in the police force are corrupt. I dare say that the said allegation is not far from the truth, but what can we do to eradicate that. We can only complain so much. What can be done to make things better?

The system must change from within. The police ought to be made to feel proud that they are a police force. Our government in recent months seems keen to invest and donate funds to the people via BR1M and other aids given to the people. Why not have the government divert those funds towards the salary scheme of the police force? If the nation wants the police to work harder, pay them better.

The police too, must change within themselves. They are our guardian, they are our security administrator. Help the people, save them, and not hurt them. Like a Malay proverb, “Harap Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi”, to the police I say, don’t do that.

The police may also consider sharing their success story to the people on how they successfully investigated and arrested certain criminals. Somehow in my memory, the gunning down of the infamous criminal, Bentong Kali, in 1993 remains fresh. I recall reading on how the police tracked down Bentong Kali, quietly surrounded his home in Medan Damansara and tried to arrest him but unfortunately the arrest turned into a shooting incident which resulted in Bentong Kali’s death. It was a good police operation, and that arrest, I recall, made my family and I feel safer again.

Merely showing the public items which were recovered and touching them with rubber gloves doesn’t inform the public on how the police caught the criminals. Of course, the police cannot share the secret methods of their investigation process but surely stories of how certain policemen pretending to be floor sweepers and pizza delivers to try and corner a criminal will excite the imagination of the public and, more importantly, give confidence to the people that the police are trying to do something.

Let us take a look at the recent infamous Batman killing in the United States. Within two days of that tragic incident, James Holmes was arrested and eventually charged. Within ten days after the incident, the police there announced the results of their investigation and shared with the public how they investigated the incident. We can and ought to do the same here.

Ideally crime ought to be stopped in the minds of potential criminals. The system must try to plant in the thoughts of the people that crime does not pay. The classic “You should not do what you do not want others to do to you” should be engrained in the thoughts of Malaysians from a young age.

Another area which the system can explore is to have a criminology department to study the minds and the backgrounds of convicted criminals. The system must try to understand why a person got involved in a crime, so as to ensure that the circumstances and the surrounding atmosphere which caused that person to commit crime is diminished and mitigated. This process of criminology is prevalent in the Western nations. The same is used in Japan. We ought to follow that too.

But the citizens cannot just rely on the system and expect the nation to just save us. The citizens must do our part. Over and above locking up your doors, we may consider taking part in community projects to help find ways to solve crimes. The best informers to inform the authorities of criminal activities are actually us. We should do that.

We must strive towards a Safer Malaysia, a nation where a child can ride a bicycle freely outside the house, a grandma can happily do her gardening outside her home or any of us can walk around without fear of being mugged or robbed. Surely that is not too much to ask for. After all, Safety is not a Slogan, it’s a way of life.

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