PETALING JAYA: Shady alleys and shadowy figures lurking around the corner – these are not scenes from lonely city streets, but the reality that many commuters face in our train stations.
Since the Feb 14 attack on a woman at the Taman Mutiara MRT station, security has become a concern for Malaysians.
The Star readers, responding to that story, have pointed out that besides MRT stations, several LRT stations that are secluded and dimly-lit also pose risks to commuters, especially women who travel alone.
Based on their tip-offs, we checked several of the stations they named.
At 6.45am yesterday, it was eerily quiet at Entrance B of the Taman Connaught MRT station, which is located opposite the Cheras Sentral Mall.
Commuters we spoke to have said the MRT and LRT stations are especially quiet after 9pm.
At certain LRT stations, commuters said they have to use the staircase or wait for their buses or taxis in the dark.
Some were appalled to know that the CCTV footage of the Feb 14 assault at the Taman Mutiara MRT station that went viral was not live.
RapidKL operator Prasarana Malaysia Bhd has said that the number of TV monitors it has cannot cover all its CCTVs.
An employee of a convenience store at the Taman Connaught MRT station who wanted to be known only as Nor Syahira said she could not believe that the CCTV footage is not displayed live on the monitors.
“This is illogical. What is the use of CCTVs when there is no one monitoring it? Nobody would be able to help during an emergency.
“If the robber had a knife, the lady could have been stabbed. She could have died or been severely injured,” said the 22-year-old.
Nor Syahira said she sometimes sees auxiliary police officers patrolling here.
“Sometimes they will come in to buy things. But the patrolling is not routine; I don’t think they have fixed hours.
“The MRT station is usually crowded during peak hours, from 8am to 9am and from 6pm to 8pm,” she added.
Since the Feb 14 incident, she said she has been more careful and her colleagues will walk her home after her night shift, which ends at 11.30pm.
Police have arrested the suspect in that Valentine’s Day incident.
The video that went viral shows the man looking directly at the CCTV camera in the lift before he began his savage assault on the victim, a 48-year-old woman.
The victim suffered multiple injuries, while her assailant escaped with her MyKad, ATM cards and RM400 in cash.
Process engineer Izzah Syazwani, 30, said she seldom takes the MRT because she feels unsafe walking from the multi-level carpark to the MRT station itself.
“They closed Levels 2 to 4 of the carpark, perhaps to better manage it, but I only see one security guard on the ground floor. No other guards patrol the area.
“There are CCTVs, but I am not sure whether there is anyone monitoring them.
“As you can see, there is a broken glass panel along the bridge linking to the carpark. It has been broken since I first saw it several months back. It still has not been fixed. I think the management needs to buck up on efficiency,” she said when met at the Taman Midah MRT station.
At 11.17am yesterday, there was no one in the security control room which houses four large monitors.
Izzah was shocked when she was told that CCTV footage was not shown live on the monitors in the control room.
“It has to be shown live. What is the point of having so many CCTVs at the station? Are they there just for recording purposes?
“No one can help victims if anything happens,” she said, adding that there should be emergency buttons and guards patrolling at night.
Geraldine Monique Wilfred, a 24-year-old accountant, said she has not taken the lift at MRT stations since the Feb 14 video went viral.
“I would rather take the escalator and walk farther. Looking at the viral video, the robber is merciless. I am scared,” she admitted.
Wilfred added that two weeks ago, her car parked next to Cheras Sentral had its windows smashed.
“Another car’s window got smashed several days ago. I do not want to park my car at the mall’s carpark as I sometimes work late, and then I would have to walk in the dark.
“I think that would be more dangerous,” she said.
When met at the dimly-lit Plaza Rakyat LRT station, 18-year-old Ng Zheng Yao hoped Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, which operates RapidKL, can at least fix the lights at the station.
Half of the lights where he works as a part-timer at a pop-up coffee stall in the station were not working.
“The mana gement will switch off the lights from 10am to noon. But there is not enough sunlight in here, so it gets very dark.
“I think I am still safe as there are many people walking here. My colleague who works at another coffee stall at the Taman Melati LRT station is not as fortunate.
“Once he went to the washroom and all the money he locked in the drawer of the stall was stolen,” said Ng.
Many lights were missing along the walkway linking the Taman Melati station to Pudu Sentral.
Ng, who takes the MRT on a regular basis, said it is weird that the CCTVs are not monitored.
“The purpose of having CCTVs is to first protect commuters, rather than to arrest a robber after the crime.
“The management should prioritise crime prevention,” he said.
Met on an MRT train, finance executive Ruzila Kasim said she seldom sees auxiliary police or security guards patrolling the stations.
“There was once a blackout at the station. I had to walk alone in the dark to my car. That was scary.
“The management should inform commuters (of any blackouts) at least,” she said.
Ruzila added that MRT stations are a lot more spacious than LRT stations, and therefore more manpower is needed to ensure the safety of commuters.
Terence Goh, 31, who takes the LRT to work every day, said the Taman Paramount station is usually quiet after 9pm.
Unlike MRT stations that are usually well-lit, he said he has to wait for his Grab car at the LRT station in the dark.
“Just last night, even though it was only 9.30pm, half of the lights at the station were switched off. I walked the staircase in the dark too,” the marketing executive said when met at the Taman Paramount LRT station.