A 10-man gang armed robbery of 70 patrons of a open air steamboat restaurant in Cheras has brought the crime situation in Malaysia to a new record low

Nearly 70 people were robbed at an open air steamboat restaurant in Cheras in the early hours of Saturday morning by a group of 10 persons armed with parangs and iron rods. The shop owners and patrons lost more than RM20,000 and at least 2 of the customers were assaulted as a result of being too tardy with coughing up with their valuables.

In fact, it was reported that the Police have received four reports on such cases in Kuala Lumpur and another in Petaling Jaya in the past two weeks. I also know as a matter of fact that there has been many of these cases occuring in various parts of Petaling Jaya commercial centres over the past 6 months, but these shops are fearful of unwanted publicity which may result in reprisals from the armed robbers.

The sheer audacity of these robberies have plunged Malaysia’s already bad crime situation to new depths. We are not talking about an armed robbery of a person walking in a dark and isolated back street. We are now seeing blatant armed robberies in crowded open restaurants.

As a result, the Royal Malaysian Police is being subjected to the triple crisis of confidence and credibility today.

Firstly the rise in crime and its aggressiveness has proven the Police failure in their most important task, that is to ensure that the man-on-the-street do not live in fear for their lives and property.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak just launched the “United Against Crime” campaign claiming that the effort to fight crime is “a war which needs commitment and continuous support from all levels of society to create a safe surrounding for the people”.

Bernama reported that in urging all strata of society to be united to combat crime, the Prime Minister called on the private sector, specifically owners of shopping centres, to upgrade the level of security at their premises such as installing more close circuit televisions and hiring more security guards.

While the above are supplementary acts which may help mitigate crime, the ultimate responsibility of fighting crime, such as these violent and outrageous open air restaurant robberies, can only be handled by the police. The Prime Minister is surely not asking all Malaysians to stop eating outdoors, or all restaurants, big and small, to install CCTVs and hire security guards. Or worse, that all Malaysians should stay at home in the evenings so that they will not be unfortunately robbed at eateries.

Secondly, the Police today are more interested in playing politics than fighting crime. To quote the Member of Parliament for Lim Kit Siang, we now have the “most political IGP” in the nation’s history. Over the past month since Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s appointment, Malaysians do not see any new real initiatives, breakthrough or success in the most important challenge of the police to make safety and security the top police priority.

Instead, we see the police under the IGP coming down hard on Pakatan Rakyat leaders and social activists, although public peace and order had not been undermined in any manner. The IGP has instructed to police force to use and abuse the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Sedition Act to intimidate and clamp down on all political dissent.

And thirdly, after the 4th death in custody within 18 days under the watch of the new IGP, the professional reputation of the police force is in complete tatters. The latest death involving a Japanese citizen in the lock up of USJ police station is also the 9th this year. Essentially, this points to the fact that there has been no improvements at all since the recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Royal Malaysian Police in 2008.

These triple crises of confidence and credibility of the Malaysian Police puts on the spotlight on the Barisan Nasional government’s obstinate refusal to implement the key recommendation of the RCI report, that is the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). The IPCMC is “aimed at dealing with complaints regarding the police, and seeking to improve the professionalism of the police force and to make certain that doctrines, laws, rules and procedures are observed and applied by the police”.

The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the BN Government. If BN would even dream of winning back support from the urban population in Malaysia in the next general election, then it must implement the IPCMC to prevent the further deterioration of the crime situation, the continued politicisation of the police force as the catspaw for BN and any additional loss of lives of those held in custody in the lock ups.

Tony Pua Kiam Wee DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara