Implementation of policy could help solve security problems

Checkpoint: A security guard asking a visitor for his identity card at a guarded housing area in Ipoh. — filepic

WHILE they laud the Government’s intention to amend the Private Agencies Act 1971, the general public wants more to be done quickly to rein in the problem-ridden security industry.

Ong Jo Ann, who lives in a guarded community, feels it is not enough to just amend the Act.

“Clearly, it has a lot to do with the enforcement of the Act.

“In my opinion, the myriad of problems surrounding the security business is equally an enforcement problem as it is a problem of policy.

“For example, the law says that all guards must be vetted but that is only on paper. What is actually being practised is very different,” she said.

Ong said the Government ought to pay more attention to details of its policies.

“This problem is not limited to the security industry as the same is happening with express bus and taxi permits,” she said, adding that it had been a rude shock to read about security licenses being leased out to third parties including gangsters, illegal immigrants hired as guards as well as guards being caught with illegal firearms, in the newspapers.

The Star had also reported that security guards were not getting the pay they rightfully deserve despite the implementation of the RM900 minimum wage.

Worse still, some do not have Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits or medical benefits while having to work 12 hours a day, 365 days without any days off or annual leave.

And without any employment letter or salary slips issued to them, these guards neither exist on paper nor are they considered gainfully employed.

Ong believes that employees are being treated that way because there is not enough profit to be made.

“With so many people sharing the same cake, I would believe that competition is intense.

“It’s a pity that the guards are the ones to suffer because their employers want to make as much money as possible.

“How much can a security firm make by collecting just RM30 from each household in a small housing area per month?” she said.

Engineer T. Shashi, who also lives in a guarded community, said the Government should group together the many security firms into bigger companies and give them specific areas to cover.

“For example, Company A looks after the Pasir Puteh area, Company B guards the Gunung Rapat area while Company C is in charge of the Klebang area.

“That way, even if you were to collect just RM30 per household, there is volume and the companies can provide better service.

“At the moment, some of those providing security services are not even legally registered as businesses or worse still, they are triads,” he said.

Condominium dweller W.K. Leong also agrees that policy and enforcement should go together hand in hand.

“I do not think we would have had this situation if there was proper enforcement in the first place.

“It is due to lack of enforcement that the vetting system is screwed up and we end up having guards, who instead of protecting our neighbourhoods, break into our homes or rob us,” he said.

Leong further expressed hope that the Government would disallow foreigners to become guards.

“Firstly, there is a communication problem as some of them can hardly speak a word of English.

“In the case of an emergency, say I am reporting a break-in at my neighbour’s home, the thief would have carted away everything by the time I get my message through to the guard.

“It is also common for foreign guards to simply let strangers enter the property.

“Ultimately, I feel safer having our locals as guards,” he said.

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