Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Tuesday, 2nd December 2008:

Najib & Musa play with words while crime and fear are increasing  

Recently the country's police chief conceded that the crime rate is high when opening the 5th Forum on Crime and Policing at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Presenting a keynote address entitled "Instilling Confidence in the Royal Malaysia Police -- My vision as the Inspector-General of Police", Musa Hassan said the 2007 crime statistics in the country is 772 cases for every 10,000 population.

The Royal Malaysian Police website reveals that rape has increased from 1210 cases in 2000 to 2435 cases in 2006. Robberies by single and unarmed person went up to 18,000 cases in 2006 compared with 12,000 cases in 2000. Cases of assault numbered 5104 in 2000 and jumped to 5716 cases in 2006.

Gangsterism and drug-related activities also appear to be on the rise in schools. In my constituency of Klang, the crime rate increased to 37% in 2007.

If we look at the CIA webpage and other websites of intelligence-gathering organisations, we would see Malaysia being described as a haven for trafficking of women and children to cater for the sex industry.

The CIA sums up Malaysia as a a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Foreign victims, mostly women and girls from China, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation.

While people and communities live in fear, deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's opts to spend valuable political energy to gloss over the glaring facts. His statement comparing Malaysia to Japan and Hong Kong, which have higher crime rates, does not assure Malaysians that the government is actually helping to solve the problem.

Telling a group of journalists that the economic council, headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had informed Musa that Malaysians are hoping for the police to increase efficiency is mere rhetoric.

I urge the police chief to lay down, in specific terms, measures which would be undertaken to curb the escalating crime rate. The reason is simple - in 2004, the crime detection rate of the police force stood at a dismal 37%. It has not increased much since, prompting the people to lose faith in the police force.

The role of the police force is primarily to ensure public security. It is not to play second fiddle to the government. But the police have acted largely to protect the interest of the ruling elite and its cronies.

Four thousand new recruits to the force in late 2003, were strategically placed to fatten-up the Federal Reserve Unit and Air Wing. They do not patrol the streets and protect civilians but add to the military branches of the country's armed forces.

Instead of cleaning up the force, Musa has recently said requests by political representatives to have their summons deleted from police records hinder officers from doing their job.

This is a joke.

Musa must first educate his officers against corruption and bribery.

With the pressure exerted by the opposition political parties and civil society nipping at his heels, let's hope that Najib, Musa and the government would draw up concrete measures to protect the people.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang