Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, speaking at the opening of the "Addressing Perception On Safety and Security" - The Way Forward, at Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur. (pix by MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI)

KUALA LUMPUR: Negative perception towards the police force persists due to the lack of public engagement, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Speaking at the 'Addressing Perception on Safety and Security' forum here today, he said the drop in crime index started after Datuk Seri Najib Razak's premiership in 2009 when he kicked off the national transformation programme.

"After several measures were taken, the crime index dropped. From 2013 to 2017, it drastically reduced to more than 53 per cent, which contributed to the current average reduction of 47 per cent.

"This (2013) was when I was appointed to the Home Minister and Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was the Inspector-General of Police," he pointed out to a lacklustre response from the audience.

"This is the reality but public perception disagrees because only about 15 to 20 per cent of you clapped to the achievements that I mentioned.

"This is due to perception (on the police).

"We want the reduction of crime index to continue to drop although being a zero-crime country is impossible, but no matter how efficient our crime-combatting efforts are, statistics are not enough," he said.

Moving forward, Zahid said, the police force must create a new approach in dealing with the public's negative perception.

"We have to create peace of mind among general public where we highlight the good news although we konw that 90 per cent of the news out there are bad.

"The townhall discussion like today is part of that engagement.

"We would like to engage with everybody, form network with non-governmental organisations and instill confidence among the public," he added.

Also present at the event were Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.

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