KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan has accused the authorities of hiding facts from the public over the country’s crime rate, claiming that public security has now reached a “worrying stage”.
In an interview with The Malaysian Insider, Musa told the government that there was no need to mask crime figures, pointing out that if crime was not on the rise, top-ranking officials and ministers would not need to hire bodyguards.
Musa claimed the authorities were hiding facts about the rising crime rate.
“The public needs to know the truth, there is no need to hide when it comes to crime. When I was the IGP, I always spoke about rising crime,” he pointed out in the interview yesterday.
Musa, who has served in the Royal Malaysian Police for over four decades, was the country’s IGP for four years from 2006 before he was succeeded by Tan Sri Ismail Omar on September 13, 2010.
Despite the recent spate of assaults, robberies and kidnappings, the police, government efficiency unit Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) and the Home Ministry have held on to statistics showing that the country’s crime rate has dipped considerably since initiatives under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) were put in place two years ago.
PEMANDU’s “Reduce Crime NKRA” unit held a media briefing yesterday to allay public fears on the issue and released fresh statistics showing that the rate dropped again in the first five months of the year by 10.1 per cent.
It had previously released figures to show that index crime had dropped by 11.1 per cent from 2010 to last year while street crime dipped 39.7 per cent in the same period.
The agency even appealed to the media for assistance to help correct the public’s perception of crime, urging for more “balanced reporting”.
But Musa appeared to dismiss the figures and suggested instead that the government appoint a third party to conduct an independent review of the country’s crime rate and produce its own statistics.
“During my time, I asked Universiti Sains Malaysia to prepare crime statistics,” he said.
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At yesterday’s PEMANDU briefing, unit director Eugene Teh cited several surveys conducted by foreign pollsters, which he said further supports the agency’s crime statistics.
Among others, Teh pointed to the latest Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) survey which showed that public fear of crime in Malaysia dropped 3.9 per cent from 58.5 per cent in December 2009 to 54.6 per cent in May this year.
Musa suggested improvements in police operations as one of the measures to help reduce crime, saying the force could change its crime prevention methods to “intelligence procurement”.
“We need to get intel information first. If the information is good in terms of its procurement, and we work closely with foreign enforcers, then we would be able to ascertain the background of a person much earlier to monitor them.
“It is the same within our country... we need to monitor local gangsters and criminals,” he said.
The experienced former top cop added that a similar trend in rising crime was currently being felt in countries across the globe due to the economic crisis in Europe.
“Globalisation makes it hard for a country to prevent crime; it causes many foreigners, whose backgrounds we do not know, to enter our country... especially those from Nigeria.
“These are some of the reasons behind the rise in the crime rate here,” he said.
Despite the repeated assurances and statistics from the authorities, Malaysians, especially women, appear to be unconvinced and have grown more insecure when out on the streets.
Even the country’s expatriate community has weighed in on the issue and said they were increasingly fearful for their safety here, especially after the kidnapping of 12-year-old Dutch schoolboy Nayati Moodliar, who was snatched while walking to school earlier this year, hit global headlines.
In the latest high-profile crime to be reported, the mother of a Penang federal lawmaker was robbed at knifepoint in a pre-dawn home invasion in George Town.
Other cases which made headlines in recent weeks include an ATM robbery at a hypermarket that saw about RM1.2 million carted away, a carjacking and kidnapping of a Singaporean family in Johor and a Malacca clerk who died after she fell off her motorbike after being attacked by two men.
Following the string of ATM robberies, banks are also now mulling moving their ATMs located in malls, supermarkets, petrol and rail stations to alternative locations.
By Amin Iskandar