19 January 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.
Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday January 17, 2007

Equip our cops to do the job

Musing by Marin Mahathir

IN the space of just one week, two friends of mine, Adeeba and Annie, had their homes broken into. In both cases, men wielding parang entered their homes in the early hours of the morning.

In the first case, they tied up Adeeba, her husband, two children and a maid and spent 45 leisurely minutes ransacking the house. In the second case, they were surprised by Annie’s screams and ran off but not before managing to grab some valuables.

Both these cases, happening so soon one after the other to people we know well, have shaken my husband and me to the core.

One of our friends had no security system, while the other had a guard and closed-circuit TV. Yet, they both got hit. It seems that there isn’t a lot you can do, if people are determined to enter your home.

This merely adds to a growing sense that we are all less safe both in the streets and in our own homes. My fellow columnist Dina Zaman has also just written about the same subject. But why is this happening?

In order to work her feelings through after the trauma of the robbery, Adeeba decided to pen some observations. She described the ordeal that she and her family went through as the robbers tied them up, as they turned over everything in the house, as her children bravely sat quietly even as they trembled in fear.

And she also described how even though squads of police came after she had called them, she did get a sense that they “have been there and done that” many times before. That they too are overwhelmed by the sheer number of these robberies and break-ins.

As she sat in the police station talking to the Chief Inspector, she was astonished at the working conditions of the police, forced to spend time in offices so bleak that no human could be expected to function properly.

And then, they are expected to investigate robberies at homes, while not necessarily lavish, that are still so much larger and more comfortable than they can ever hope to afford.

Another friend talked about how someone she knew had to attend an identification parade at a police station after the police had caught two out of five people accused of beating him up.

Unlike American TV cop dramas where the accused are identified through a one-way mirror, in Malaysia the accuser actually has to place his hand on the accused’s shoulder to identify him. Even rape victims apparently have to do this!

We can imagine how many people decline to do so, as the person in this case did, which means perpetrators have to be let go.

Our police do not have the money to install one-way mirrors because they cost RM10,000 each, and in the entire country, there are only 10 police stations with this facility.

When we talk about fighting crime, so much responsibility is still placed on victims and potential victims. Don’t go out at night, don’t carry handbags, don’t dress a certain way, use grilles and locks.

We may do all this and still things happen, after which the law enforcement system is supposed to kick in to find perpetrators and obtain justice and redress for the victims.

But these days, we feel unsafe not only because we feel we cannot protect ourselves but also because we know these cases do not get solved. Not because the police do not try, but because they cannot go all the way for lack of facilities, equipment and yes, motivation in the form of salaries that reflect society’s appreciation of their work.

Additionally, we should look hard at our society and think about why robberies and snatch thefts happen. There must be a correlation between the economic environment and crime levels.

As Adeeba succinctly observed, while she is angry with the robbers, “I am less angry with them than I am with the whole system that has allowed this lawlessness and disorder to take place time after time after time. A system that has led to the pursuit of economic wealth at all costs. A system that glorifies greed and material wealth. A system that has watched moral and societal decay and increased economic inequalities go by with no discernible actions to put it right. A system that puts more emphasis and priorities on billboards touting this and that rather than spending those ringgit on paying our policeman better and making their work environment more pleasant.”

My husband and I are pondering what security systems to put in place. But as if to prove the futility of it all, Annie’s security company has recommended only one thing: a blue police box outside her gate. Should I laugh or cry?