DAP’s three-point proposal to successfully to roll back the escalating  crime wave  in general and  snatch theft incidence  in particular: greater police visibility, police redeployment to  double personnel fighting crime and a National Policing Plan

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Wednesday): In the past five years, there was an average of at least one death from snatch-theft a year, but this has escalated to one a month in the past two months, with the tragic and senseless murder of Chin Wai Fung, 38, clerk in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur on 22nd May 2004  - her fourth snatch-theft in Brickfields in 15 years - and Chong See Chin, 37, Nanyang Siang Pau clerk and mother of two, in Taman Molek, Johor Baru on 12th June 2004.

Previous cases of deaths because of snatch thefts include:

  • Feb.2, 1999, Kuala Lumpur – car salesman Chee Kok Keong.
  • July, 1999, Penang -  69-year-old woman Lee Poh Keng.
  • August 1999, Petaling Jaya -  78-year-old woman Agatha Chong.
  • July 2001, Petaling Jaya – 58-year-old woman Acharigay Vimalawathi
  • June  30, 2002, Penang – an Indonesian tourist
  • May 2004, Kuala Lumpur – Chin Wai Fun, 37
  • June 2004, Johore Bahru – Chong See Chin, 37

There is outrage in Johor Baru at the senseless killing of Chong, with a protest rally expected to be attended by more than 5,000 residents in Taman Molek on Saturday, which has also received the blessings of the Johore Mentri Besar, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

But what is there to ensure that this outrage is not another “five-minute outburst” to be swiftly forgotten in a matter of days when the news disappeared from the national media limelight – until the unchecked escalation of the crime wave in general and snatch thefts in particular claim a new victim with another senseless killing, like what happened to the short-lived, futile and fruitless  nation-wide furore over the killing of Chin Wai Fung only three weeks ago?

It is most disturbing that the present  outrage over a second senseless killing from snatch thefts in three weeks seems to be physically confined to Taman Molek or at most in Johor Baru when it should have sparked off a nation-wide protest against the rising lawlessness with a purposive national campaign against crime – as outrage confined to Taman Molek or Johor Baru is not sufficient momentum to sustain a effective campaign against crime with positive results leading to the restoration of the fundamental rights of Malaysians,  to be free from crime and the fear of crime. 

Chin Wai Fung died in vain on May 27 for although the police classified her case as one of murder, it neither caught the murderer nor  prevent another killing, the murder of Chong See Chin three weeks later. What is there to show that the classification of Chong’s snatch-theft killing as “murder” could stop the lengthening of senseless deaths caused by snatch thiefs in the immediate future?

From police statistics on snatch-thefts in the first four months of this year, the worst states are Kuala Lumpur with 1,144 reported cases or 9.5 case of snatch theft reported daily, followed by Selangor with 1,118 cases (9.2 cases reported daily), Johore 566 cases (or 4.7 cases reported daily), Penang 439 (3.6 cases reported daily), Perak 316 (2.6 cases reported daily) and Sarawak 258 (2.1 cases reported daily).  The police statistics on snatch thefts in the first four months of this year, published in Utusan Malaysia yesterday, are as follows:

Statistics on snatch thefts January to April 2004

                        Snatch theft               snatch theft               Total

                                               (with motorcycle)

Kuala Lumpur             219                  925                              1144   
Selangor                    410                  708                              1118
Johore                         74                  492                                566
Penang                       30                  409                                439
Perak                          19                  297                                316
Sarawak                      18                  240                                258
Kedah                         36                  205                                241
N. Sembilan                 53                    69                               122
Sabah                          81                    3                                  84
Malacca                      13                     57                                70
Pahang                         5                     56                                61       
Terengganu                  21                    32                                53
Kelantan                      11                    32                                43      
Perlis                            1                      8                                  9
Total                          991                 3533                            4524

Last year, 15,798 cases of snatch thefts were reported, involving more than RM7.3  million in material losses.

However, these statistics are gross underestimates, as over half of the number of actual incidence of snatch thefts are not reported.  As the DAP MPs told the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Bakri Omar, the CID Director Datuk Musa Hassan and other top police officers in our dialogue at the Bukit Aman Police Federal Headquarters on Monday, the overwhelming majority of snatch thefts go unreported as snatch thefts.  This is because the police would as a matter of course advise ordinary snatch theft victims to just report “articles missing” to avoid the hassle and inconvenience both to the police and the victims in having to conduct investigations and take statements if reported as “snatch thefts”  – when in the end, nothing would be found.

DAP wishes to make a  three-point proposal to successfully roll back the  crime wave  in general and  snatch theft incidence in particular: greater police visibility, redeployment of double percentage of personnel fighting crime and a National Policing Plan.

The single most effective factor to deter crime is to have  a modern, professional and  competent 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 –  and taking the most elementary step to increase 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.

Secondly, there should be redeployment of police personnel to double the percentage of police personnel in fighting crime. At present, only 7% or some 6,000 of the 85,000-strong police force are fighting crime.  This should be immediately raised to 14 per cent, with a target of at least 30 per cent of the police force fighting crime, by releasing police personnel from clerical,  desk  and other jobs unrelated to the task of fighting crime.

Thirdly, the formulation of 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.  The National Policing Plan should be formulated, implemented and monitored with the fullest public consultation, participation and involvement  every step of the process  – as no police authority in the world can provide effective and efficient world-class policing service without the fullest co-operation from the public.

The Plan should set targets and time-frames  for reduction of crime, such as snatch thefts,  in the various localities. For instance, every urban area should publicise the “black areas” where crime incidents such as snatch-thefts, are rampant; and the progress to turn these crime “black areas” into “white areas”. When a crime “black area” has been declared a “white area”, it should be a media event to show tangible success in the battle against crime.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman