The current crime spree is very real and we all need to stand united and fight it as one.
There is no doubt that the responsibility for fighting crime rests squarely on the shoulders of the police. That’s what they’re paid for, right? The truth of the matter is that there are simply not enough cops to cover every single area.
Much as they would like to think that they are omnipresent, they are not. No police district can assure 100% safety of its inhabitants. Criminals are also not stupid. If they spot the police at a location, they will simply move to another location to commit their crime.
It’s ultimately our own responsibility to be alert and vigilant at all times. To give the police their due credit, they are certainly trying, as the currently ongoing mobile “Ops Payong” attests to.
There are also citizen volunteer initiatives like Rela and the quickly expanding Community Policing (COPS) based on a partnership between the police and the community whereby both share responsibility for identifying, reducing, eliminating and preventing problems that impact community safety and order.
One obvious option to fight crime is of course to install CCTVs. But not everyone has the surplus cash to install them. MARAH members have proposed that the state and federal governments can help by providing grants, cash, tax rebates, deductions and other incentives to people wanting to install CCTVs.
The rationale is that the government spends less time and money to install CCTVs as citizens can do it themselves. It will assist the police to identify criminals, thus helping with prosecution as well, and ultimately help the police to do their job more effectively and efficiently, which will then also reduce costs further.
These tax breaks should be treated as an investment with the added benefit that the operating expenses on the police force will also be reduced. We have the option of bulk purchase at a reduced price for items like alarms, security guard services, safe boxes, and so on.
Granted, the long-term solution would be to deal with the root causes of the current crime spree, which are mainly the widening of the income gap between the rich and the poor, stemming corruption and prioritising crime fighting and, more importantly, crime prevention.
But the reality is, doing all of the above takes time, which is not really on our side at the moment, considering the alarmingly increased rate of crimes happening nowadays.
So the above suggestions for improved security measures actually serve as a short-term solution that can immediately provide a barrier to protect us while we all work towards implementing the long-term solutions.
Are we doing our part?
In all this, what is the ordinary Joe and Jane Malaysian doing?
Nowadays, with the popularity of social media, many Malaysians are quick to voice our dissatisfaction with the authorities. We are quick to point fingers and lay blame.
The question is: are we all doing our part? Is our own safety and the safety of our loved ones not also our own concern and responsibility?
How many times have we read about snatch theft victims who were badly injured? Or killed? How many of us would stop to help a person whose bag has just been snatched? How many of us would check to see what was happening if an alarm goes off?
If we’re in our cars, waiting at the traffic lights and witness a motorcyclist who smashes the window of another stationary car, would we do anything? How many of us would even stop to help after an accident? We would rather slow down to rubberneck and cause a traffic jam, a favourite Malaysian pastime.
P Yuvavinayagar, 15, was splashed with petrol and set ablaze by the robbers he grappled with. They were trying to siphon petrol from his mother’s motorcycle. He suffered 80% burns and had a leg amputated, being in a coma since the attack and died from his injuries on Sept 12.
On July 10, seven people walked past snatch theft victim Tan Kim Chuan, 60, without lifting a finger to help her as she lay unconscious on the road with a cracked skull at the Rifle Range flats in Penang. CCTV footage showed her lying on the road for about seven minutes before three good Samaritans moved her to the side of the road. She died later the same afternoon due to her injuries. Sadly, there are many more such cases documented on the MARAH site.
Tan Kim Chuan could have been your mother, sister, aunt or wife. Yuvavinayagar could have been your son, brother, cousin. Would you have still walked past? We need to look out for one another regardless of age, colour, religion and creed. We seriously need to wake up, people.
In the meantime, our politicians squabble over statistics. The arguments over the crime rate and perception versus reality should not distract the focus of the community and enforcement authorities from the crime cases themselves. The current crime spree is very real and we all need to stand united and fight it as one.
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Dave Avran is the founder of MARAH (Malaysians Against Rape, Assault & snatcH)