DAP proposes that the Parliamentary Select Committee on amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code to curb sex crimes should be expanded to address the escalating crime wave, and in particular the  grave and rampant  snatch-theft crime

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): DAP welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the government is considering a law empowering citizens to help the police to curb crimes, such as snatch thefts.

No police authority in the world can provide effective and efficient world-class policing service without the fullest co-operation from the public, and this must not only include empowering citizens to effect citizen arrests of snatch thiefs, but in policy formulation,  implementation and monitoring of a national and local policing plan to roll back the double rise in the crime rate and the fear of crime in the past decade to enable Malaysians to again feel safe in the streets, public places and the privacy of their homes.

I am seeking an appointment with the Prime Minister,  who is also the Minister for Internal Security responsible for the police portfolio, to discuss with him the grave problem of the double increase in the crime rate and the fear of crime in the past decade, and to make two proposals to help roll back the crime wave.  

Firstly, that the  Parliamentary Select Committee on amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code to curb sex crimes should be expanded to address the whole question of the  escalating crime wave, and in particular the disturbing, grave and rampant snatch-theft crime. 

The government has agreed to the establishment of two parliamentary select committees, which would be constituted in the July meeting of Parliament – one on national unity and integration which will first focus on the national service training programme and the second on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to enhance penalties to curb the alarming rise  in sex crimes. 

The escalating crime wave, in particular the growing frequency and severity of snatch thefts which had averaged one death a year in the past five years but now chalking a toll of one death a month in the past two months, is the strongest argument for the widening of the scope of the Select Committee on the Criminal Procedure Code to deal with the whole spectrum  of crime to restore to Malaysians two fundamental freedoms they had lost in the past decade – the dual freedom from crime and the fear of crime. 

Two murders were committed in two snatch thefts  in the past three weeks - on 22nd May 2004 when  Chin Wai Fung, 38, clerk in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur,  became the victim  the  fourth and last time  in 15 years in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur  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

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 cases 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 cases  (3.6 cases reported daily), Perak 316 cases  (2.6 cases reported daily) and Sarawak 258 cases  (2.1 cases reported daily). 

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 “items lost” 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.

The second proposal which DAP wants to submit to Abdullah is for 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, which should be formulated, implemented and monitored with the fullest public consultation, participation and involvement  every step of the process, should set targets and time-frames  for reduction of crime, such as snatch thefts,  in the various localities. 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.

Specifically, for instance, there should be targets within declared time-frames for the worst states in snatch thefts, namely Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johore, Penang, Perak and Sarawak to reduce the total incidence of snatch thefts by 50 per cent!

Such a National Policing Plan should set out the strategy to ensure  greater police visibility and the  redeployment of police personnel to double the number of the 85,000 policemen fighting crime, increasing from the present seven per cent of the police force  to 14 per cent immediately and aiming for a 30 per cent target in the Ninth Malaysia Plan.


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