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As Abdullah’s call for an “all-out war against crime” came more than eight years after he was first appointed  Minister responsible for Police and more than three years as PM – is it for real or just empty rhetoric?

Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Saturday) : The printed media yesterday carried screaming front-page headlines on the latest call of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: viz: “FIGHT AGAINST CRIME: PRIME MINISTER DECLARES… ALL-OUT WAR” (New Straits Times), “Wage war on crime” (Star) ABDULLAH wants… All-out war on crime, terror” (The Sun)


Speaking at a special assembly at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Abdullah called on the police to battle crime and terrorism at all cost, in the same way their predecessors had successfully fought the communist threat in the past.


He said: "There will be no compromise in wiping out criminals and terrorists.


"We must battle them as aggressively as the police personnel who served in the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) during the communist era had fought to keep the peace and harmony of the country. There was no compromise by these policemen."


As Abdullah’s call for an “all-out war against crime” came more than eight years after he was first appointed the Minister responsible for Police and more than three years as Prime Minister –  the common response not only of ordinary Malaysians and MPs, but also the Police and Cabinet Ministers must be whether this is for real or just empty rhetoric?


Abdullah was first appointed Home Minister on 9th January 1999  by the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who relinquished the Home Affairs portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle forced by national and international furore over Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s “black-eye” outrage, paving the way for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry which identified the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor as the perpetrator of the foul attack on Anwar in the Bukit Aman police lockup less than a month after being sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.


When he became Prime Minister on Oct. 31, 2003, Abdullah pledged that one of his top priorities would be to reduce crime to restore to Malaysians their fundamental right to be free from crime and the fear of crime, whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of their homes? Today, Malaysians feel even more unsafe from crime than when he became Prime Minister.  


Abdullah had raised great hopes about his commitment to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional and world-class police service to declare an all-out war against crime when he set up the Royal Police Commission which came out with 125 recommendations, the most important of which was the proposal for an  Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).


All such high hopes of Malaysians for a world-class professional police service to keep crime index low to make the country safe for the people, visitors and foreign investors have been dashed to the ground in the past three years for three important reasons:


Firstly, police fighting a losing war against rising crime index, which had worsened from 156,315 cases in 2003 to 226,836 cases in 2006 – a sharp rise of 45.1% in the past three years when the police force had set the target of reducing the crime index by five per cent each year!


The Royal Police Commission had in fact set higher benchmarks for the police, proposing a minimum of 20% decrease in each category of crime within a period of 12 months.


But the opposite had  taken place in the past three years, with violent crime increasing by 85.8 per cent from 22,790 cases in 2003 to 42,343 cases in 2006, with rape cases registering the highest increase of 65.5 per cent – reaching an average of 6.7 women raped daily in 2006 compared to an average of four women raped daily in 2003. In 2003, an average of 1.5 persons were murdered daily; but in 2006, this has increased to an average of 1.65 persons murdered daily.


Secondly, the “split-personality” government complex, with the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. During the winding-up debate on the Royal Address motion in Parliament on Thursday, I asked the Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Bahrun the reason for the discrepancy between the claim by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan at the recent 200th Police Anniversary celebrations that 90 per cent of the 125 recommendations of the Royal Police Commission had been implemented with the answer given by the Prime Minister in Parliament that only 82 per cent of the recommendations had been implemented. 


Johari was unable to explain the discrepancy involving a difference of 10 recommendations, which appeared to have disappeared into the  “black hole” in the labyrinth of police and civil service bureaucracy and the Deputy Internal Security had to ask for time to look into the matter. I will write to Johari to pursue the matter. Lets see how long the Deputy Internal Security and the Inspector-General of Police need to cook up an answer.


Thirdly, the two-year foot-dragging on the key proposal of the Royal Police Commission for the establishment of the IPCMC as the most important recommendation to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional and world-class Police Service.

I have no doubt of the outcome of any  public opinion poll  conducted among Malaysians as to whether the Prime Minister’s latest declaration of an “all-war war against crime is for real or just empty rhetoric.


In fact, I believe that the same outcome of skepticism and cynicism would be the overwhelming result of any opinion poll conducted among MPs regardless of political party or even the civil service if the respondents are assured of the confidentiality of their identity and response.


Abdullah has become his own biggest enemy in terms of his credibility and integrity as the Prime Minister, Internal Security Minister and Finance Minister. He has stopped coming to Parliament to answer questions or reply to debates whether directed at the Prime Minister, Internal Security Minister or Finance Minister.


This cannot and must not go on if Abdullah is serious and wants to be taken seriously about his pet subject of ending the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” as he must set a personal example of being a towering Malaysian!



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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