PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) wants the government to introduce a Vandalism Act to allow for compulsory community service and caning for habitual offenders.
Its senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said community service was more effective than other punishment, especially fines.
He said at the moment vandalism by-laws enforced by the local authorities were inadequate.
At present, offenders can be charged under Section 427 of the Penal Code which was amended in 2014, where whoever commits mischief and causes loss or damage of RM25 and above can be jailed between one and five years or fined or both.
“There is a need for all local authorities to enforce community service and publicise it to instil fear of public embarrassment among the perpetrators.
“Introducing the Act is now possible, as Article 6 of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits forced labour, was amended several years ago,” he said yesterday.
Community service is a form of punishment intended to benefit a community which has been negatively affected by a wrongdoer’s acts.
Judges often order offenders to perform community service in addition to or instead of other forms of punishment, such as incarceration, fines or probation.
Lee also suggested that habitual offenders, who have been found guilty more than three times, be punished with the cane apart from the minimum one-year imprisonment as provided for under the Penal Code.
He also said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin should take steps to ensure the enforcement of community service order by all local authorities to deal with habitual offenders.
“To ensure the effectiveness of the existing and proposed laws, enforcement personnel must carry out their tasks more responsibly while the public must act as the eyes and ears of the authorities,” he said.
Although vandalism in Malaysia was not as severe as many countries in the West, Lee said the quantum of damage was a serious problem.
Public facilities such as recreational parks, toilets, bus stops and even LRT and MRT stations have become the targets of vandals.
Acts of vandalism, including graffiti, abound as can be seen on fire hydrants, garbage bins, lifts, parking meters and public signboard
It was reported that a bicycle-sharing provider has collaborated with the police to tackle vandalism against its bikes, which have been thrown into drains, hung on trees branches, or left on pedestrian walkways.
“Such a negative behaviour shown by some Malaysians proves that there is an urgent need to introduce community service to help tackle vandalism,” he said.