FOR the past few years, news of various crimes has often made it into the headlines of our daily newspapers, as well as that of the online news portals. It is not unusual for us to read news about snatch thefts, robberies and break-ins.
It was rather unfortunate, however, that it has taken years for the government to finally come clean, to recognise and admit the fact that the crime rate in this country is rising.
But various citizen action groups have applied pressure by reporting and spreading the news of crimes happening around us through social media - against the backdrop of the government claiming that crime rate is falling - and their actions have finally borne fruit.
Like any modernised society, crime is a pressing issue that the state must address. With daily reports of various crimes, the rakyat no longer feel safe. The people do not feel that the police are putting in sufficient efforts to curb and solve crime. The people also do not see any effort on the part of the Government to find ways to address the increasing crime rates.
Hence, the rakyat's increasing grouses led to comparisons, such as the discrepancy between the thousands of police personnel who were deployed to handle the participants of the past few demonstrations and assemblies, compared to the number of police personnel that are seen patrolling the streets and cracking down on criminals. The latter generates less excitement for the force, hence the perceived lackluster fight against crime.
To this, the government, especially the police force, must act fast. As one of the first steps, there should be more patrolling by the police.
I remember my visits to countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom. There, it is a norm to see the police patrolling the streets, be it on foot, horses or patrolling with police dogs.
In Malaysia, however, it is rare to see the Malaysian police on the streets and in the residential areas where crime often occurs. The norm appears to be that the police will either park themselves in the police stations or the police beat base waiting for queries and/or reports from the people. In the absence of police personnel at these crime spots, potential criminals can commit crimes.
As such, there should be additional police personnel patrolling the streets and residential areas. Their presence will not only deter potential criminals from committing crimes, but also restore public confidence in the police force as they will be adulated for making a big push to confront criminals and prevent crime.
In addition to the government's effort, we as citizens can also do our part to reduce crime. By this, I do not mean the steps that we should take to avoid falling victim to crime, but the efforts to prevent crime.
Local communities must come together to form their own patrol groups to safeguard the safety of those living in the same neighborhood. Such programs, more popularly known as Rukun Tetangga, will not only help to deter crime, but also enhance the relationship of those living in the same neighborhood as well as the cooperation between the people and the police.
Given these benefits, the government should consider providing incentives, whether monetary ones or via furnishing the necessary equipment, to encourage patrol groups set up by the local communities for such a purpose.
The corporate sector can also play its part in reducing crime. As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, the large corporations such as developers and shopping mall owners can consider hiring auxiliary police forces to complement the existing police force.
The auxiliary police are useful when it comes to patrolling residential areas for houses built by the particular developers, as well as the car parks of shopping malls where crimes often take place. Again, the government can play an important role to encourage such moves by providing tax incentives to the corporations which engage and adopt such CSR programs.
These suggestions are quick, simple steps that the government, the people and the corporate sector can take in order to reduce crime. And given the increasing crime rate, we should not waste any more time. The government, in particular, must take immediate actions to curb crime.
Of course, there are many other long term solutions which may be adopted in the future. But for now, let us take these immediate remedial steps to resolve the issue first. And no, we certainly do not need to bring back preventive laws to curb crime.