We can take the initiative to beef up security by bringing back the Rukun Tetangga or forming gated communities.
News of attacks, abductions, kidnapping and attempted rapes in the parking lots of our neighbourhood malls have recently been hogging the limelight.
Amidst the hundreds of CCTV units and security personnel posted for duty in these areas and with government agency Pemandu reporting Malaysia’s falling crime rate, fear still lingers and it’s not clearing away anytime soon.
Look around us: the recent emergence of gated communities and the swelling numbers of auxiliary police tell us that Malaysians no longer feel safe, not even within the confines of their own homes, with robberies and break-ins becoming increasingly commonplace.
I feel envious when my friends studying overseas tell me how their neighbourhoods are fenceless and that the crime rate is virtually low. As a Malaysian, I wished we had the same luxury, too, and that I could walk in the streets of Petaling Jaya without being mugged.
The causes of the crimes are complex – ranging from poverty, lack of education to influx of foreign workers and hate. These are variables no government will be able to change overnight.
What we can best do now is to act: neighbourhood communities should walk hand-in-hand together to curb crime. Petition the malls management to beef up security. Push our local councils to clean up the streets. The lists of things we can do are endless. But what we lack is initiative.
Years ago, communities would form Rukun Tetangga units comprised of men (husbands, sons, bachelors) in the neighbourhood. Unpaid, they took shifts patrolling at night to make sure the vicinity was safe.
But times have changed. Studies have indicated that urban dwellers do not pay much attention to the affairs of their neighbour. But the least we could do as a community is to take care of ourselves and those around us.
In 2003, the murder of IT analyst Canny Ong made headlines. She was abducted in a neighbourhood mall and later met a gruesome death. The security of malls had been tightened but was it enough? The recent disturbing news of a rise in the crime rate seems to prove otherwise.
Nevertheless, shopping malls have beefed up security. For instance, Sunway has installed panic buttons in its parking lots for shoppers to alert security. In other malls, more CCTV units are being installed and auxiliary police and security personnel are conducting more frequent patrols. Even the government has mooted a proposal to establish a training module for the 25,000 security personnel at the 330 shopping malls nationwide.
It should also not be forgotten that security is the concern of the police force. But lack of public trust and manpower is said to be some of the problems hampering the performance of the men in blue.
Even if Pemandu’s claims on declining crime rates are true, blaming the press for forming negative perception on security is not proper. After all, it is the media’s duty to report news that is of great concern to society – public safety.
We have two choices. We can continue to condemn the authorities for not doing a good job on crime prevention or we can reach out to all concerned to do something about it. We can approach organisations, mall administrators, police and the local councils to increase security. We can take the initiative to strengthen public safety by bringing back the Rukun Tetangga or setting up more gated communities.
These are just some of things we can do to make our neighbourhoods and malls a safer place.
Security is a shared responsibility and it begins with us.
Aziff Azuddin, 21, is a UiTM student who is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in journalism.