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Abdullah cannot just shout “Stop bickering” but must assume personal leadership and responsibility as Internal Security Minister to tell the nation the true facts about the runaway crime situation in the country or give up the key portfolio to a hands-on Minister
(Parliament, Friday) : The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi cannot just shout “Stop bickering” to the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Johari Baharum and the Police about the actual crime statistics in Sentul district, Kuala Lumpur but must assume full personal leadership and responsibility as Internal Security Minister to tell the nation the true facts about the runaway crime situation in the country or relinquish the key portfolio to a hands-on Minister.
On Saturday, Johari said the crime index in Sentul had risen by 82.2% in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year. He also said snatch thefts shot up by 600%, making the highly populated area one of the most troubled spots in the city.
Three days later, Federal CID Director Comm Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said snatch theft cases in Sentul had dropped by 142 cases or 36.6% in the first three months of this year. As such, the crime rate in Sentul for that period increased by only 10.1%.
On Wednesday, Johari countered that his figures were given to him by the police themselves and that he had not made them up or taken them from blogs.
Yesterday, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Najib Abdul Aziz came out in defence of Wan, saying that the CID Director’s numbers were accurate.
Najib said Wan’s crime figures “is the final, audited version” and that there is “no cover-up, no manipulation”, adding: “We have nothing to hide from the public”.
However, Najib said the conflicting figures could be due to the auditing process and re-classification of several case.
This is most ridiculous. Police credibility is not served with such a glib explanation. Can Najib explain how the reclassification of snatch-thefts could result in such a humongous difference between the 693.5% increase in the first three months in Sentul as stated by Johari in contrast to the drop of 36.6% for the same period as stated by Wan and the Police?
One version is not correct and either Johari or the Police is wrong. Why is Abdullah as the Internal Security Minister unable to publicly declare which version is correct, or whether both versions are wrong?
Or is it too difficult and complex for Abdullah to ascertain the true situation?
Johari had made two very serious allegations - firstly, that the Police had “manipulated the crime rate figures to confuse the public”; and secondly, that he “feared that the Prime Minister may have also been given the wrong figures”.
If the Opposition had made the allegation that the Prime Minister had been misled by the Police on crime statistics, it could be dismissed as hearsay; but when such an allegation comes from the Deputy Internal Security Minister who is the de facto Police Minister on day-to-day operations, the Prime Minister cannot ignore it but must clear the air. He must say whether his deputy minister is right or wrong in the latter’s suspicions about police misinformation.
Public credibility and confidence in the Abdullah premiership will suffer an irreparable blow if his response to the public spat between Johari and the Police is only to order both to get out of the ring and disappear from public limelight.
In fact, Abdullah himself cannot stay outside the ring but must enter the picture as he is not only the Prime Minister but the Internal Security Minister to tell the nation the true facts about the runaway crime situation in the country.
When he became Prime Minister in October 2003, one of his top priorities was to reduce crime to restore to Malaysians their fundamental right to be free from crime and the fear of crime, whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of their homes. Today, Malaysians feel even more unsafe from crime than when he became Prime Minister some 42 months ago.
The Royal Police Commission in May 2005 had recommended as immediate Police target a minimum of 20 per cent decrease in the number of crimes committed for each category within 12 months of its Report – i.e. by May 2006. The Police on its part had the target of reducing the crime index by five per cent each year. Have both targets been achieved under Abdullah?
The reverse has actually taken place. The crime index in the country has worsened in the 42 months Abdullah was Prime Minister from 156,315 cases in 2003 to 226,836 cases in 2006 – a sharp rise of 45.1% in the past three years.
In the past three years, violent crime had skyrocketed by 85.8 per cent from 22,790 cases in 2003 to 42,343 cases in 2006, with rape cases registering the highest increase of 65.5 per cent – reaching an average of 6.7 women raped daily in 2006 compared to an average of four women raped daily in 2003. In 2003, an average of 1.5 persons were murdered daily; but in 2006, this has increased to an average of 1.65 persons murdered daily.
The public spat between Johari and the Police, and the failure of Abdullah to step in to assume leadership and responsibility for effective policing in the country to keep crime low and Malaysians, visitors and foreign investors safe and secure will only compound public loss of confidence in the efficiency, effectiveness and good governance of the Abdullah premiership.
Abdullah should stop dilly-dally as Internal Security Minister. Either assume full responsibility as Internal Security Minister or he should relinquish this important Ministerial portfolio to someone who could be a hands-on Miinister and not just delegate to a Deputy Minister to be a de facto Police Minister who clearly has lost the confidence, support and respect of the Police.
Either Abdullah give full support to Johari as his Deputy Minister and vindicate his deputy’s statements and actions or he would have to look for a new Deputy Internal Security Minister.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman