Shocking that there is less outrage and nation-wide hue and cry over the latest fatal casualty of snatch crime, Chin Wai Fung, 38, than the maltreatment of Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonet as if the life of an Malaysian is cheaper than a foreign worker

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Tuesday): I find it most shocking that there is less outrage and nation-wide hue and cry over the latest fatal casualty of snatch crime, Chin Wai Fung, 38, clerk, who died after she fell and hit her head on the road when a motorcyclist tried to grab her bag in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. 

This was the fourth time that she had fallen victim to snatch theft in 10 years. Together with DAP MPs, Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam) and Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah), I paid my last respects to Chin at her funeral this morning, as apart from extending our condolences to her family at their bereavement, we also wanted to highlight the gravity of the of crisis of law and order in the country, particularly in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya which have become the capitals of crime in Malaysia – with the relentless double rise in the crime rate and the fear of crime among Malaysians. 

Malaysians from all walks of life have rightly expressed their  disgust, outrage, revulsion and shame over the horrific wounds inflicted on a 19-year-old Indonesian maid from Nusa Tenggara Timur , Nirmala Bonet by her employer's wife.

But what has shocked me is that there is no equal or even greater outrage and condemnation over the killing of Chin Wai Fung, not only as compared to Nirmala but also as compared to Canny Ong, as if Malaysians are numb and insensitive to criminal killings unless they involve horrific circumstances like the gruesome abduction-rape-murder of Canny Ong last June.

In the eighties, Malaysian leaders were fond of making derogatory references to the capitals of the West like New York and London as capitals of crime – but today, while criminal statistics in these Western capitals have been curbed considerably, Malaysia is going through a dangerous phase where citizens have lost the fundamental right to safety and security, whether in the streets, public places or even the privacy of their homes. 

Although CID director Commissioner Datuk Musa Hassan today declared war against snatch thieves, terming them as Public Enemy Number One (Star), is this merely rhetorical flourish with a life-span of not more than 24 hours, or does it represent a new policy approach of the police and the government?

Is the Police seriously suggesting that snatch thieves have now been declared as bigger “public enemies” than drug kings and corruption?  If so, what are the new policy approaches and strategic deployment of police forces in store to address the long-standing and ever-worsening problem of snatch thefts?

Snatch theft have until now been grouped under the “less serious crimes”. I am not asking the Police to declare it as Public Enemy No. 1, but to elevate it to the position of the “Serious Crimes” category, requiring more serious police attention.

The incidence of snatch thefts is much more serious than the crime statistics kept by the police. Police statistics show that for the first four months of this year there were 4,511 snatch theft cases and 539 arrests. For the whole of last year, there were 15,798 cases, with 1,861 people arrested, compared with 14,640 cases and 1,558 arrests in 2002.

In reality,  the statistics of snatch thefts is only a small fraction of the actual number committed, as it is the common practice as I pointed out in Parliament last Thursday during the debate on the Royal Address that police would invariably advise victims of snatch thefts not to report snatch theft but as  “lost”, to save both the victims and the police time and a lot of inconvenience.  This is probably out of good intention of the police, as the police  and the victim would have to  spend a lot of time in recording statements and investigations – when in the overwhelming number of the cases, all such investigations would be inconclusive and fruitless.

The Police have not taken the double rise of crime rate and fear of crime seriously, as there is no appreciable improvement in 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, must be regarded as the core of policing!

When with other DAP leaders I visited China recently on a private tour, covering Shanghai and South Yangtse cities like Nanking and Hangzhou, there was greater police visibility and accessibility in the streets although China has a staggering population of 1.3 billion as compared to Malaysia’s 25million!

The police should adopt a 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. 

I find it shocking that instead of ensuring that the people can restore their fundamental right to safety and security in the streets, the police have set up a force of 1,000 police personnel to give special protection to VVIPs as if the safety and security of ordinary Malaysians are of no consequences.

As the double rise in crime rate and fear of crime is a national problem and not just confined to Kuala Lumpur, a public protest meeting at the double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime is  being organized during the present parliamentary meeting. We will invite the Inspector-General of Police to the public meeting to explain how the police proposes to deliver the most fundamental right of all citizens to safety and security in the streets, public places and the privacy of their homes.

All victims of snatch thefts and their loved ones and relatives from all parts of the country  should all come forward to demand an end to the tide of crime and fear of crime in modern-day Malaysia.


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