Malaysia’s enforcement seasons


By Saleh Mohamed

When planning a trip to Europe, it is important to know the various seasons because seasons govern price and are key to finding the cheapest airfare and accommodation available.

Summer is the most expensive time of year but you will enjoy longer day time. Some will choose winter to experience the snow and some would want to smell the flowers of spring.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we are not fated to experience the four seasons in Malaysia. The seasons meant for us are the dry and wet seasons.

However, there is another seasonal occurrence in our beloved country – Enforcement.

First Case
In December 2013, four months after Ops Cantas, the Inspector-General of Police reported 1.1 million Malaysians were screened and 39,097 arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca). It was a success and brought down the crime rate by 7%.

Ops Cantas was launched in August that year after a series of gun-related violence and several deaths involving underworld gang members. It was acknowledged then, that there were 49 gangs operating in the country.

The Poca was introduced to replace the abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).

Three years after Ops Cantas, the police came up with Ops Cantas 2 to handle gangsterism and assassins after several shooting incidents that occurred recently. Even the Home Minister called for the crackdown. However, our top cop said Ops Cantas had never ceased its operations and it will continue.

Second Case
We used to have Ops Sikap. It is now Ops Selamat – to stop the carnage from road crashes during our festive seasons. According to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) in a study done in 2012, daily road deaths were expected to rise to 29 by 2020.

Ops Sikap didn’t work because the approach was advisory. Ops Selamat is about total enforcement.

Traffic law enforcement should not be seasonal. Strict enforcement must be an on-going exercise and not just religiously carried out during festivals only.

Malaysia does not have a good record in traffic law enforcement. According to the World Health Organisation, the enforcement of laws in Malaysia was ranked four to five, out of 10. Singapore’s score was between 7 and 9.

Road accidents are a very costly affair and it averages RM9 billion annually due to losses of inter alia, human resources, legal processes and damages.

Third Case
In Sept 2013, our Immigration Department arrested 2,433 people during a major swoop across the country to flush out illegal immigrants. The Home Minister warned the operation was not to be seasonal and more well-planned raids and arrests would be coming.

In December 2014, the Department gave a guarantee that Malaysia would be free of illegal immigrants come 2020. The number of illegal immigrants then was almost 2.5 million based on analyses done by the Department.

A World Bank report in December 2015, showed Malaysia has the fourth largest number of migrants and the seventh highest ratio of migrants to total population in East Asia Pacific. It also recommended strengthening monitoring and enforcement of immigration and labour regulations.

In an aggressive campaign in February 2016, it was reported there were still more than two million illegals in Malaysia.

I think the Department and the minister-in-charge has a lot more work to do.

My two sen worth here are:
1. Stop corruption in the phases of implementation and enforcement;
2. Invest resources to increase all year round enforcement – stop the excuse of under-staffing because the income generated from fines and summonses should more than compensate additional staff; and
3. Revamp policies

Well, I could go on and on with many more cases like logging thefts, illegal sand mining, restricted routes on highways for heavy vehicles, vehicles window tinting, etc.

The mere thought of the lack of, or spikes, in enforcement evoke a sense of intense disgust. Just like the smell of durians. To some it is described variously as rotten onions, turpentine and raw sewage.

But for me at this moment, let us forget the climactic seasons or the enforcement seasons and enjoy the current durian season.

For me the smell is not rotten onion or raw sewage but a pleasant sweet fragrance sent down from the Heavens.

Saleh Mohamed is an FMT reader.

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