The crime index has gone down. However, public perception of the police is either still negative or remains unchanged.
Yes, incidences of crime may be statistically recorded. But, public perception is general understanding or impression about the whole issue. Like cases of road crashes. It may be stupendously indicated that 2,000 fewer accidents were recorded the whole of last year. But, it doesn’t mean a thing to the ordinary folk who hear about this and that horrifying crash every other day of the week.
There are no two ways about it. The matter has been highlighted the past week and the facts remain. The police can come up with all kinds of statistics to show that crime has gone down but ask a person to walk alone in his neighbourhood at night and you see what you get.
The crime index for the whole country has gone down by between 4.2 per cent and 12.6 per cent from 2011 to 2015, but public perception of the police force has remained unchanged, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the other day.
“Some among us do not want to acknowledge the fact that the police have discharged their duties well. At the same time, some media also do not want to acknowledge this fact and achievement.”
And, in Malacca, also last week, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the national crime index from January last year to last week dropped by 2.7 per cent, with 112,000 cases compared with 115,225 in the corresponding period the previous year. He said the decline was a result of proactive measures taken by the police with the cooperation of others, especially the people, in combating crime.
“It will be less impactful if the police were to solve crimes alone. We will only maximise the impact if (we) can get members of the public to discuss and plan how to deal with the current crime cases,” he added.
A little more than 115,000 cases to 112,000 over one year. That’s 3,000 cases less and yet the ordinary person still pins hopes for a fair sense of security in all cases. And, who could blame him?
In Subang Jaya, for instance, more and more areas are being turned into gated and guarded precincts. Since most of these areas had not been planned to be gated in the first place, it has caused a lot of inconvenience regarding access. But, residents have no choice but to go ahead with gated plans and to have only limited access to their homes. That’s public perception against crime.
The police may also be resplendent with their grand achievements in combating the drug menace, insurgency and corruption, with a bit of help from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, but the truth is, the ordinary person still has fear about his safety, hence, contributing to public perception.
The big achievement on drugs, insurgency, terrorism and corruption is well and good but the general perception is another thing altogether that needs to be looked into. What about the break-ins, the snatch thefts, the car thefts and the bullying?
These few weeks alone, there were several break-ins in Subang Jaya. Thieves were seen trying to force themselves into a house one afternoon. There were also those who were after shoes laid in the porches, bicycles and other things. Those who are going for their morning exercises are also asked to beware as there have been cases of muggings. And, not to mention the big ones happening in Sabah, where cross-border crimes have been committed with ease despite the presence of Eastern Sabah Security Command and other armed robberies frequently occurring.
It has been acknowledged that some of Malaysia’s policemen are horizontally challenged. It’s good to hear that some 10 per cent of them who are obese have to shape up or miss out on promotions. There are nearly 122,000 police officers in all but if 12,000 of them get out there to tackle crime, it could well make a difference. Statistically and perception-wise.
The quickest and easiest way is for the police to blame the mass media on the alleged portrayal of negative news on national security. Get out
of the mentality. That is just taking it too far.
Syed Nadzri is a former NST group editor