DAP’s five-point proposal to restore public confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the police to reduce crime, the fear of crime and reassure the people about the safety of the streets, public spaces and homes
- Selangor DAP forum on “The lesson from Canny Ong case: Reduce Crime and the Fear of Crime”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): It is regrettable that after agonizing for two days, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai finally decided to decline the DAP invitation to tonight’s forum to explain how the police proposes to reduce crime and the fear of crime and to listen to the views of the people on the public crisis of confidence on citizen safety and community security. The least he should have done is to delegate a top police officer to represent him.
This shows that the police leadership has still to fully understand and accept the right of the people to demand accountability, transparency and higher standards in the delivery of one of the most basic functions of all governments through the ages – the police service to provide security and protection to the citizenry.
This forum is not anti-police or police-bashing event, as the police play a vital and essential role in any ordered and civilized society. The people want an effective and efficient police force, and must co-operate with the police to make the streets, public spaces and homes safe.
The gruesome abduction-rape-murder of Canny Ong has brought to a head the growing concerns of the public about the deterioration of the police service marked by the double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime in many areas in the country, especially Petaling Jaya which is swiftly gaining notoriety as the capital of crime in the country, and it is time for the people to stand up and speak loud and clear to the police and the government that the levels of crime and the fears about crime are unacceptably high and that they want to see the immediate reversal of the rising trend for the crime rates, in particular the more serious and violent crimes, like rape, robbery and murder.
DAP makes five proposals to restore public confidence in the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the police service to reduce crime, the fear of crime and reassure the people about the safety of the streets, public spaces and homes.
Firstly, the restoration of political leadership and responsibility for the delivery of a professional, efficient and effective world-class police service.
The recent blunders by the Home Minister and the Deputy Home Ministers on policemen-population ratio as compared to developed countries, claiming that Malaysia’s ratio is 1:3000 when it is closer to 1:300 is not just a simple problem about poor mathematics, but symptomatic of a deeper malaise – the failure of political leadership and responsibility over the police force.
In a parliamentary democracy, the Home Minister is responsible and answerable to Parliament and the public for the provision of an efficient and effective police service, and he should set strategic direction for the police service by laying down objectives and priorities which represent the major public concerns to be adhered to by the police force, subjecting the police to close monitoring and assessment of their performance by Parliament and the public through performance indicators, policing plans and annual reports.
In Malaysia, however, the Home Minister and the deputy ministers seem to have surrendered leadership for the police service and abdicated responsibility for the police force, except in special circumstances as in the silencing and detention of political opponents under the Internal Security Act!
A national agenda for the reduction of crime and the fear of crime is not just a police responsibility but also the political responsibility of the government of the day – but no Malaysian would be able to recall when the Home Minister or any of his deputy ministers had ever stepped forward to assume leadership and responsibility for this law and order agenda as their interest is exclusively confined to ISA detention of political opponents!
Secondly, Parliament must make up for its failures of the past to give proper priority to the important subject of law and order to ensure citizen safety and the right to live and work in a safe environment without fear of crime by having annual debates on the issue, as well as by the establishment of an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee on citizen safety and community security to regularly monitor the performance of the police service.
Thirdly, a Royal Commission of Inquiry to make recommendations for a modern, professional, competent and responsive police force which could deliver quality world-class police service to reduce crime, the fear of crime and reassure the people about the safety of streets, public spaces and the homes – whether by increasing police visibility and accessibility bearing in mind that uniformed officers, working on the streets, maintaining the peace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, are the core of policing; quality police manpower such as through the establishment of a National Centre for Policing Excellence to be more effective in crime prevention, detection and conviction; improvement in the pay and working conditions of the police to attract quality recruitment; better deployment of police forces to fight crime instead of regime protection or the more effective use of science, technology and information technology to transform policing to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Fourthly, an annual National Policing Plan, complemented by a local policing plan in every police district, setting out the priorities of policing, how they are to be delivered and the indicators by which performance will be measured. This will be the basis of an annual parliamentary debate, as well as local community debates, on the police service.
Fifthly, the establishment of a National Policing Forum to provide a formal structure to involve the various communities and the civil society, including political parties, NGOs and professional groups, to consider the key elements of the annual national and local policing plans and to monitor their performances.
The police service to provide a safe and secure environment for Malaysians to live, work and play is too important to be left to the police force alone to be its sole concern but should be the joint responsibility of all stakeholders in our society – and it is hoped that this forum tonight will help to create the national awareness to bring about greater police efficiency, accountability and transparency and meaningful public consultation and participation in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the policing agenda to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman