Monday, 22 October 2012

Second wave in crime-fighting

The second wave of the Government's anti-crime drive aims to prop up the feel-safe factor among the people and give more muscle to the police force. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein talks about this push in the Government Transformation Programme in an interview with The Star.

Q: The Government promotes the fall in the crime index as a success under the Crime NKRA. However, there are still sceptics among the society.

A: When the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) was introduced in 2009, crime was a cause of concern. Hence, reducing crime was identified as a National Key Result Area (NKRA). A holistic approach was taken with specific targets or KPIs to deliver tangible results; i.e. to reduce 5% of the crime index.

The past three years have seen significant successes in the reduction of both index and street crimes. However, we realise the public remains sceptical of these achievements and have not “felt” the results. This is a challenge we understand and take seriously. This is not exclusive to our society; it's the same case in almost every society.

They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the Home Ministry is not only aware but has been engaging the necessary methods and approaches to ensure tangible outcomes.

Based on the current environment, what are the plans by the ministry and the police to address these issues and concerns?

Crime occurs only when there is a perpetrator, victim and opportunity. Under GTP 1, we emphasised reducing the window of opportunity. Under the second phase we are expanding our focus to the victim. We hope this will address the perception issue. We have placed the feel-safe factor as a major focus of our plan of action. Crime prevention is a collective responsibility of every citizen and not just the duty of the enforcement agencies. Based on this, we have formulated initiatives and programmes to empower the rakyat and stakeholders to join us in fighting and preventing crime.

In Johor Baru recently, we witnessed, for the first time, a commitment by the private sector and facility owners to share their security assets with the police under the PDRM SafeCam programme. Through this programme, the police would have immediate access to more than 19,000 CCTVs in southern Johor. Collaborations and involvement such as this, I believe, are the way forward.

Our police have been carrying out their duties in an extremely challenging environment insufficient manpower, lack of support infrastructure and logistics, to name a few.

The last significant increase of police personnel was in 1969.

It is imperative that our police be empowered and given more allocation to ensure they are able to rise to today's challenges and demands of crime prevention. Budget 2013 has provisions for 4,000 additional police personnel and 10,000 police volunteers. The second phase of our anti-crime efforts will see specific programmes and initiatives to tackle current fears and concerns of the rakyat.

For example, we are concerned with crime in housing estates, shopping malls and car parks. We have specific initiatives to address this problem. The introduction of the police motorcycle patrol unit with 1,000 motorbikes is one of the initiatives.

There are claims that the Government, and the police in particular, is more interested in managing public perception rather then addressing the fear and concerns of the rakyat. This is especially so based on the sizeable budget allocated to improving public perception.

These claims are irresponsible and misleading. This issue, raised by several Members of Parliament, only confuses and misleads the public. Leaders should be responsible and explain the full story and not pick and choose based on political considerations.

The Budget 2013 allocation for the crime NKRA is based on the respective KPIs. One of the KPIs established was to improve the safety perception index with an allocation of some RM272.5mil.

This allocation has been targeted by some quarters as being funds for public relations and communications. The ultimate emphasis is to ensure the rakyat feel safe. To do this, we have established an index-based independent survey. This is the KPI.

The RM272.5mil allocation is for implementing programmes and activities that can help increase the safety perception.

Out of that amount, RM259.9mil is allocated for the omnipresence initiatives to deploy more police officers to high risk and highly populated areas. If this budget allocation is solely to enhance public relations for the police as alleged by some, the police will be able to take up a full front page editorial in the The Star for the entire year.

Are you happy with the allocations for NKRA and PDRM under Budget 2013? What are the ministry's plans?

I'm happy that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak understands the situation and the new challenges we face in terms of addressing the threat of crime. We are pleased there will be, for the first time, a dedicated allocation of RM10,000 for registered Residents' Associations to empower them in the fight against crime. Also, there is a specific incentive given for private premises owners in terms of capital allowance for purchase of security related equipment.

Budget 2013 also serves to empower the police in terms of their welfare and well-being. For example, the announcement on an insurance scheme for all personnel and the review of police career scheme is timely and well received by all.

We have set up a committee comprising all related agencies to work out a timeline on delivery. Only timely and effective delivery could bear results and earn the people's trust.

In fact, while waiting for the Budget 2013 provisions to flow in, the ministry has started to roll out several anti-crime initiatives with existing allocation.

There has been a spate of violent crimes recently. Some have suggested this was largely due to the abolition of preventive laws.

Since the abolition of the Internal Security Act and Emergency Ordinance was announced on Sept 15 last year, 1,476 detainees have been released. Additionally, 1,119 individuals under the order of exile have been allowed to return to their respective home states.

We recognise the possibility of these ex-detainees returning to their life of crime and proactive measures have been put in place by the relevant agencies.

I can't spell out exactly how it is being done but suffice to say these groups of ex-detainees are closely monitored by our officers.

The GTP draws a fine line between national security and personal liberty but as the Home Minister, I can assure you that national security and public order will never be compromised. The Government will not tolerate criminals.


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