GEORGE TOWN: The lack of affordable and low-cost housing in the state is one of the causes of crime in the state, said Penang police chief Datuk Wira Deputy Comm Ayub Yaakob.
“Land is being reclaimed and hills are being cut only to build more luxury houses and condominiums, and not affordable housing schemes for the lower income earners.
“The present low-cost flats are too small with no proper recreation areas for children and youths, and this had resulted in them getting involved in social problems such as illegal motorcycle racing,” he said.
“Living in cramped quarters can be stressful and this is what drives these youths to spend more time outdoors and get themselves in trouble.”
He was speaking at the 7th Forum on Crime and Policing in Malaysia held at Universiti Sains Malaysia yesterday with the theme ‘Community Policing: The Penang Police Experience’.
The forum was officiated by Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye who congratulated the Penang police for achieving a 27% drop in crime rate for 2009/2010, the highest in the nation.
He said while it was important to fight crime in the country, it was more important that the root causes be found so that crime could be nipped in the bud.
“One of the biggest causes of crime is drug addiction. When I was in the National Association of the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Pemadam), many rehabilitated drug addicts approached me asking for a chance to prove themselves.
“They are prepared to be useful citizens but nobody is willing to give them a chance. It is difficult for them to get jobs because of their past and they don’t have any choice but resort to crime,” he said.
Lee added that education and helping in the prisoners and drug addicts’ rehabilitation process are among the steps taken by the MCPF to indirectly help curb crime in the country.
“For example, former convicts are placed in a halfway house and are given help to find jobs to support themselves.
“Currently, there is only one halfway house for former convicts in Jalan Duta but there are plans to introduce more in other states,” he said.