11 August 2013

In the face of rising concern over the crime rate, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi repeated his assertion today that the police force had lost its bite in the repeal of laws that once allowed them to detain suspected criminals without trial.

With violent crimes on the rise and suspicions linking the sudden spate of shootings to gangland turf wars and firearms smuggling, the Home Minister appeared insistent on the need for preventive detention as a vital aid to assist crime busters.

”I think the ‘teeth’ of the police are less sharp now because their powers used to be strengthened with laws,” Zahid said in an interview published by Utusan Malaysia’s weekend editionMingguan Malaysia today.

Zahid said that the public now enjoy more freedom than before as the authorities now have to go through the courts when taking preventive measures to fight crime.

”This is what the opposition wants where the society feels that basic human rights and liberties are more important than the issue of public safety and peace,” he said.

Putrajaya had abolished the Emergency Ordinance laws and the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, both of which allowed for preventive detention without trial, a feature that has been criticised by its detractors for allegedly infringing on human rights.

Zahid and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had previously stirred controversy when they indicated that the return of preventive detention laws would help the police carry out their crime-fighting duties more effectively.

But on July 26, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak gave his assurance that his administration would be “mindful” of human rights when drafting new laws to combat crime.

In the interview, Zahid said the overall crime rate had dropped but index crimes were increasing, attributing the rise of the latter to four factors.

He said the four factors include the release of the 2,600 EO detainees from the Simpang Renggam detention centre, and their hardcore followers and subordinates which the police said hit a figure of 266,000 people.

”The second factor, those that were released from detention have hardcore supporters. According to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), from the 2,600 released, they have at least 10 right-hand men, meaning there are 26,000 with the society.

”These right-hand men also have at least 10 of their own right-hand men, meaning there’s 266,000 people,” Zahid said, roping in these followers as allegedly having contributed to the rise of index crime.

The police force have yet to increase their manpower and upgrade their resources in line with the loss of the EO and Restricted Residence Act, Zahid said.

He also said there needs to be more awareness programmes on crime prevention.

To date, the police have not provided statistics of crime cases that are said to be committed by former EO detainees.

While acknowledging that the opposition’s suggestions for legal reforms were “positive”, Zahid hinted that their approach would leave the government bearing the brunt of criticism despite being stripped of some of their powers to prevent crimes.

”Meaning, how far is our preparations in terms of preventive steps including how to handle the detainees that were released from Simpang Renggam.

“They are now in the ‘market’, the question is what is the opposition’s contribution?” he asked, referring to the former EO detainees.

”They don’t feel responsible when crime happens but instead returns the fault to the government or the authorities.

“They don’t feel guilty if there are murders because the released criminal wants to take revenge on witnesses, the opposition also doesn’t feel the slightest terusik (feeling) if there’s any weaknesses in the implementation of laws because (they) think it is the government’s responsibility,” he said of the opposition when interview by Mingguan Malaysia.

”In this situation, don’t be trapped by the opposition’s tactics, the proposals look good but in the end, the proposal will trap the government,” Zahid said.

When asked to comment on the severe criticism faced by the police force in cases of custodial deaths, Zahid urged the public to be “fair” to the police.

”Those who are arrested are gangsters and criminals but those who are blamed are the police. Be fair to the police.

”Police can carry out investigations with close circuit cameras (CCTV). Police can carry out action according to SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that is set and police can carry out investigations according to office hours, but is that effective enough?

He said the police’s actions would be based on their past experiences and the situation at hand, urging the public not to always blame the police.

”If the society feels that a certain action by the police is quite slow, they blame the team, but when the criminals acts on the police, the police is also blamed, so I think justice should also be given to the police,” he said.


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