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Crime rate: Between fact and fiction

September 14, 2012

FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail

The Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar is trying hard to convince Malaysians that they are hallucinating about the crime rate. People must first have high regards and trust in the police to believe what the police say about crime rates.

Statistics are produced for many purposes, one of which is to create perceptions, so it is for perceiver to judge their reliability or otherwise. In doing so, the perceiver looks at other factors, e.g. factors in one’s own knowledge or experience.

I have personal knowledge of two criminal acts that were reported to the police and how the police handled them. Could the IGP please explain why the police wrote something different from what was reported orally by the victims.

In the first instance an Indian housewife was walking in a housing estate on her way to nearby shops to buy something. Someone came from behind her on a motorcycle and snatched her handbag.

She went to lodge a police report at the Kulim Police Station. She related what happened and the report was taken by a frontline police personnel on duty. She is not good in Bahasa Malaysia and had not understood what had actually been written in the report.

A  couple of weeks later I had occasion to see the report. It said “..bag tangan saya telah tercicir”. I asked her what did she tell the policeman. She said she had reported that someone on a motor cycle came from behind her and snatched her handbag. Instead of writing “ragut”, the Malay word for snatch theft, the word “tercicir” (dropped) was written. The former is a crime, the latter not.

The second case was in Sungai Petani where an Indian teacher was assaulted by someone. He read the report which had been correctly recorded by the policeman and signed it. Then he was asked to go upstairs and see the IO, an inspector, to have a statement recorded.

He related what had happened. When he read through the statement he noted that the inspector had written “… telah cuba memukul saya” when he had actually told the inspector “telah memukul saya”.

Mind you, there were injuries and blood on the victim which the inspector could not have been blind to. Yet, the inspector deliberately added the word “cuba” to make a crime a non-crime. Of course the teacher insisted that the word “cuba” be deleted, which was done. But why in the first place did the IO deliberately add this word?

In both cases, what a world of a difference between what had actually been told to the police and what had been recorded. Two crimes were reported. One was successfully turned into a non-crime due to the victim’s poor command of the Malay Language. The second was almost turned into a non-crime but for the alertness of the victim.

This calls for an explanation from the IGP. Although these cases happened some years back, the records should still be around.


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