Malaysian Police (PRDM): Stop Manipulating Crime Statistics and Get on with Your Job

August 11, 2012

Malaysian Police (PRDM): Stop Manipulating Crime Statistics and Get on with Your Job

by Julia Zappei, AFP (08-10-12) @

The fear of crime is soaring in Malaysia as personal tales of abduction, assault and robbery go viral online, upping pressure on authorities to respond and triggering scrutiny of official claims that offences are down.

Shopping malls and residents’ groups have launched patrols, sales of security equipment are surging, newspapers offer tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and social media are abuzz with anguish over the situation.

Residents of the multi-ethnic Muslim-majority country – one of the most developed and stable in South-East Asia – have long complained about bag-snatching and other petty crime. But more serious recent incidents have gained wide attention on the Internet, channeling public concern in a country where nearly half the population of 28 million is on Facebook.

A day after two men tried to abduct Chin Xin-Ci at knifepoint in her car at an upscale Kuala Lumpur mall in May, she wrote about the ordeal on the social networking site, a post that was shared more than 51,000 times.

Fearing rape, she escaped by jumping from the vehicle as it slowed to exit the carpark. The attackers – as in many cases – got away.

“To me, it felt like one long nightmare. We never think it’s going to happen to us… and then it does,” the 24-year-old wrote.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak pledged to reduce crime after taking power in 2009 and, with fresh elections due next year, his government claims progress, saying the crime problem is being hyped online.

It said the number of reported crimes fell 11.1 percent in 2011 and was down 10 percent in the first half of 2012, crediting stepped-up patrols in crime-hit areas and increased lighting in public.

But many victims say officers tell them there is little they can do to catch bag-snatchers and muggers, and critics say the drop in reported crimes could be due to the resulting apathy about seeking police help.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein admitted authorities were losing the “perception” battle.“I’m not in denial. This is something that needs to be addressed,” he said last month.Malaysia’s official crime rate appears relatively low when compared internationally.

740 crimes per 100,000 people in 2009

According to the most recent government data, 740 crimes were reported per 100,000 people in 2009, compared to 665 in famously low-crime Singapore, but differing methods of data compilation make such comparisons imprecise.

Scepticism over the figures is rife, given that nearly every resident of Kuala Lumpur has been a victim – or knows at least one – of bag-snatching or “smash” thefts.

In the latter case, perpetrators on motorcycles will shatter a car window at a red light, snatch belongings, and utilise the capital’s notorious traffic jams to speed off unpursued.

“There has been a spike over the past couple of weeks with regard to especially this snatch theft and crimes against women,” said Lee Lam Thye, vice-chairperson of the government-linked Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation. “When this goes on the Internet and YouTube the impact is very great.”

Some blame illegal immigrants – Malaysia has an estimated two million undocumented workers from its poorer neighbours in the region – but victims of some of the most brazen crimes say the perpetrators were Malaysians.

Whatever the causes, Facebook users are trading stories of women assaulted in mall carparks, and knife-wielding robbers tying up families.

In April, a 12-year-old Dutch boy was kidnapped in broad daylight entering his international school in an upmarket Kuala Lumpur area, prompting other schools to ramp up security. He was freed a week later after a ransom was paid.

Malls, often jammed with people escaping the tropical heat, have seen a wave of reported car park attacks against women, prompting shopping centres to install “panic buttons”.

National Police Chief Ismail Omar insisted last month that incidents were few, but conceded that people were becoming afraid of visiting shopping complexes.

Gated communities

Gated communities with guards are common. But unguarded neighbourhoods are also now increasingly taking security into their own hands amid the widely held view that Malaysian police are ineffective and corrupt.

police crime roadblock frontimageRetiree Teoh Yan Sing, 65, and his neighbours have hired a security guard, started nightly walking patrols of their neighbourhood in a Kuala Lumpur suburb, and recently began blocking off streets at night.

One neighbour ringed his home with barbed wire after a robbery.

“The statistics don’t matter at all. The fear is there. My wife and I, every time we want to go out, we look left and right,” said Teoh, whose wife suffered a smash-and-grab attack earlier this year.

Jeffrey Tan, general manager of Centrix Security, said sales of closed-circuit television cameras – which homeowners can monitor via mobile phones – have jumped 40 percent in the last three months.

Fed-up citizens have launched online petitions demanding greater police action, and the political opposition has pounced, publicly questioning the official crime data.

“The number of cases may have gone down, but the perception is that it is still a serious problem,” said Ibrahim Suffian, head of top polling firm Merdeka Centre.


10 thoughts on “Malaysian Police (PRDM): Stop Manipulating Crime Statistics and Get on with Your Job

  1. I was a tourist from USA. I was almost robbed by a gang of five thugs near Central Market, Kuala Lumpur in broad day light. It gave me a bad impression of KL. Also the taxi drivers were dishonest. They took me for a ride. If your country does not do anything to improve your safety, tourists like I will not come again.

  2. PDRM can look good by doing its job of fighting crime and apprehending criminals, not by playing around with statistics. I live in a gated communtiy in Damansara Jaya, and seldom see a Police patrol car in our area these days.–Din Merican

  3. The famous saying in the army is, ” there are no bad soldiers but bad officers.” I blame it on the police officers, especially those at district and state levels who are more interested in playing politics than tackling crime on the streets. If only they can get their acts together the problem could be resolved, if not totally at least a fraction.

  4. In fact, police presence is almost non-existent anywhere. They are, when VViPs are around or opposition members want to assemble.
    Similarly, traffic police only serves the vvip rather than facilitates our movement. Please Mr. IGP, have a look.

  5. Two of my family members, in the space of 3 weeks, were robbed THREE times. Their cars were broken into when parked in areas that are reasonably high traffic. Three different places in KL.

    Only the 3rd time did we make a police report… comment from the police was… oh, it’s hari raya season… We take that to mean that theft is rampant during this time of year, and the police cannot or will not do anything about it.

    If the police were on patrol – and these 3 areas were not secluded areas – then almost certainly the thieves could have been caught. It’s not like the thief targeted one car each time. They were basically on a rampage and knocked off several cars at a time.

    So if one can take this as typical, then “official” statistics would show only 1/3rd of the iceberg… most people don’t bother to report to the police unless some important documents are stolen.

  6. If the PDRM fails we have havoc in this land….we have murders, rapes and robberies everyday in the NEWS! We do not like to bury the dead! But will surely bury those alive who can’t do the work!
    The news at prime time news ?
    The reporters of lousy newprints?
    Or just the opposing party creating negative impressions and reports!

  7. I thank God that we never had this bunch in service when we were fighting the armed communist insurrection during the Emergency. If that were so, we would have suffered a severe credibility cap with our Malayan public.

    I even told our poet Usman Awang many years ago in the 1980s, long before he died, that I am proud that he began life as a policeman.

    But, really, the culture in the police force was different then. We had constables working for about RM150 or less a month who went into the jungle as the original squad to face the armed terrorists.

    These were brave men who forged the accolade of our Police Di Raja Malaysia as “the first police force to win the armed struggle against the communists in the world” on the anvil of courage, struggle and sacrifice. Above all, threse were honest men who earned their salary by putting their life on the line.

    Today, as we see the inflation in the ranks of our police force at various levels, alas the service is not comparable to that provided by their predecessors in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

    What I am saying is that we used to have only one police commissioner, one deputy commissioner, and a pocketful of SACs and ACPs, Today we have hosts of them, with the Superintendents and DSPs and ASPs probably being outnumbered.

    We also see plenty of young lance corporals and corporals when in the period I mentioned, these were marks of achievement. Today, they get that rank so that they can enjoy the benefit of a higher salary. But where is their khidmat or service to society?

  8. These days the difference between the crooks and those whose task is to catch the crooks is the uniform.

    My office boy stole $1,000 ringgit from me and I had him reported to the police. The first question he asked was what race he belonged to. My office was burglarized three times. On one of those occassions a police inspector appeared to take a statement from me. That was the first and the last time I saw him.

    On another occassion I was stopped by police officers in Rayban sunglasses in a police patrol car apparently in an operation to solicit the support of donors for the weekend’s all boys’ night out on the town and away from their old ladies. It seemed my small investment in a Cobra anti-speeding gadget purchased in NY failed to pay off. One of them asked me why did I apply my brakes some 100 meters away when the police patrol was around the bend and not viisble to me. I never knew applying the brakes was a traffic offence.

  9. On another occassion I was lying flat on my back, spreadeagled and ready for the hand job of the century when a police officer in plainclothes knocked on the door. The guy was not interested in anything because all he wanted to do was to ask us to come out so our particulars could be taken down. He understood he was just doing the dirty job of his senior officer who was outside there waiting to be paid off. I suppose they would then split the loot.

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