Has the Klang Valley descended into a state of lawlessness with near nightly incidence of audacious robberies in public areas?

I had written on Tuesday, 11 June with regards to the audacious robberies being carried out in the Klang Valley. Last Saturday, nearly 70 people were robbed at an open air steamboat restaurant in Cheras 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.

Now over the past 2 nights, there were 2 incidences of armed gang robberies carried out at open air restaurants in Kepong, Cheras and Kajang on each night. This was despite 3 suspects being picked up by the Police yesterday afternoon on the prior cases.

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.

The Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself promised Malaysias a “war against crime” on Saturday when launching the “United Against Crime” programme with much fanfare. The newly appointed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar proudly announced on his appointment date on May 16th that he wants to make safety and security his priority and "return" the streets to the people. But where is this “war against crime”?

It is as if these armed criminals were thumbing their noses at the Prime Minister and the Royal Malaysian Police pouring scorn on the ineffective threats issued by the latter.

In fact the situation got so ridiculous last night that these gang of 8 to 10 armed robbers can rob 2 eateries and then proceeded to enjoy and binge themselves at a local pub, following which they refused to pay and robbed the pub cashier as well!

If the Prime Minister and the new IGP is serious about this “war against crime”, they must implement the key recommendations of the 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry recommendations for the Royal Malaysian Police.

This includes firstly the refusal by the BN Government 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 second key recommendation by the RCI, and perhaps more immediately effective, is the refusal of the Police to restructure the Police organisation to be more focused in fighting crime.

Over the past 8 years, the criminal investigation department (CID) comprises barely 9% of the police force, unchanged from before. In stark contrast, 41% of uniformed police perform management functions, while 31% are tasked with internal security and public order such as the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), the Light Strike Force as well as the General Operations Force.

In fact the Budget figures in 2010 showed that the police produced 733,237 reports and security checks by the Special Branch, but only 211,645 criminal investigation papers. So Special Branch produced more than three times as many reports as the CID. This is consistent with the fact that the new IGP seems more preoccupied in a war against civil society activists and Pakatan Rakyat leaders under the Peaceful Assembly and Sedition Acts to clamp down on anti-BN dissent, as opposed to putting up a “real” war against crime.

The 2005 RCI Report has recommended about 20,000 uniformed personnel or 22% of the force could be reassigned to go back to active core policing work. Unfortunately this recommendation has gone unheeded by the Home Ministry.

We hope that under the new Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi, the Government will no longer deem the severity of the crime issue being a matter of “public perception”. Rampant crime is real, Malaysians do not feel safe and the only perception of crime that needs to change is that belonging to the BN Government.

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