Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 19th November 2008 at 11 am: 

Challenge to Hamid Albar to a public debate to be elecast live as to whether the crime situation in Malaysia is getting better or worse 

I regret that instead of responding positively and responsibly to my criticisms about the worsening crime situation in the country, the Home Minister Datuk
Seri Syed Hamid Albar has launched a campaign to demonise me as an enemy of the police as illustrated by the following newspaper headlines today:

“’Usah gemar perlekah pasukan keselamatan’ – Syed Hamid bidas sikap pemimpin parti pembangkang” – Berita Harian

“Syed Hamid bidas Kit Siang perlekeh polis” – Sinar Harian

“Jangan perlekeh credibility pasukan keselamatanh” – Utusan Malaysia

In my 42 years in politics as a MP and DAP leader, I have never treated or regarded the police as an enemy as the police officers and personnel perform an unenviable but important and critical function to keep the country safe and secure for socio-economic and political progress and to be able to attract tourists and investors to maintain Malaysia’s competitiveness.

While I had never shirked from my responsibility to criticize faults or failures of the Police (and this applies to the Cabinet and the entire public service), I have never begrudged in giving full support to ensuring that the police force get proper and adequate recognition in terms of pay increases, equitable remuneration and improvements in their working conditions.

Is Hamid to be believed that after serving my eighth term as Member of Parliament, this being my 34th year in Parliament, I have suddenly decided to become an enemy of the police by running down the police force, as alleged by Hamid?

Of course not, and I do not think that the police officers and personnel are so uninformed that they can be easily misled by Hamid’s baseless allegations to distract attention from the brunt of my criticisms – the worsening crime situation in the country and his failure since becoming Home Minister in the past eight months to take bold measures to implement the Royal Police Commission’s recommendations to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service to keep crime low and restore to Malaysians, tourists and visitors their fundamental right to be free from crime and the fear of crime.

Police personnel are also citizens of Malaysia and in their civilian life or after retirement, they and their loved ones have often fallen victim to endemic crime in the country. Even former Inspector-Generals of Police and top police officers had not been spared from becoming victims of such endemic crime in the country.

I am shocked that the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung could say in the Parliament lobby on Monday that the worsening crime situation in the country is a “misperception” of the people – a contemptuous dismissal of the daily nightmare of Malaysians about their personal safety and those of their loved one!

With the country becoming increasingly unsafe instead of being safer, whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of homes, a person who could dismiss the widespread fear of Malaysians, tourists and investors about the worsening crime situation in the country is not fit to be in any position of responsibility in fighting crime – let alone as Deputy Home Minister.

If Hamid is a responsible and upright Home Minister, he would have asked for the sacking of Chor as Deputy Home Minister for such insensitive and irresponsible talk.

But Hamid will not do such a thing, as he not only condones Chor in such irresponsible talk, he is probably in full agreement with Chor.

I call on Hamid to stop his irresponsible PR ploy to paint me as Enemy No. 1 of the Police, when what I want is to see police reforms where the Police could be regarded and accepted by all Malaysians as their No. 1 Public Friend.

I challenge Hamid Albar to a public debate to be telecast live as to whether the crime situation in Malaysia is getting better or worse.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor