All those who have never personally or know anyone, who’s been robbed, mugged or assaulted in the last three years in KL, please close this page now.
KL is not a safe place, anymore. The fact there is universal agreement in this matter, despite the low crime statistics issued by the police department tells us – that a) crime is not low, and b) the police are not the most reliable people when it comes to being honest about crime.Safety is not a relative term.
It does not mean the absence of crime, for that is unlikely. It does require crime being an odd event rather than a daily occurrence.
The three quick explanations for crime, or more appropriately the rise of crime in Malaysia are;
a) Economic displacement – with employment non-viability for a substantial population.
b) A lack of general abhorrence to violence
c) Ineffectual and disinterested enforcement agencies, primarily the police
They are fairly self-explanatory. The change of economic focus, for example from plantations to manufacturing, or now manufacturing to nothing (with manufacturing moving to China or Vietnam) results in a group of people who are skilled in dissipating fields while being unable to participate in viable economic activity.
The second is a global phenomenon. There is more and more acceptability of violent acts, and more importantly the procuring of the tools – parangs, knives, guns and explosives.
The third and that is so much possible to improve, policing. But our policemen generally don’t care. And this is key.
The economic problem is a national planning issue to reduce income disparity between the richest twenty percent and the poorest twenty percent. And the desensitisation to violence requires social engagement and more discourse within communities. Talking really.
But the police and other authorities, this is a the real clanger in the whole puzzle.
How we can make it happen
I have explained in previous posts on what needs to be done, that the police should come under local jurisdiction and not under direct KL control etc.
However these things are what we wait for, what can we do?
There has to be society think. All resident associations should prepare phone lists of all residents, and facilitate a local phone directory.
If the police cannot come when you call, your neighbours can. I agree most people don’t want to help, but you never know.
More importantly, after some time perpetrators know that neighbours will pop each other calls if they spot something amiss around them.
Bystander apathy can be circumvented this way, since those in trouble are directing their concern to a particular neighbour making them feel direct responsibility.
It is the perceived disjointedness of societies – in this example those residing in the same area – that gives courage to criminals to perpetrate, because they are convinced they do not need to deal with anyone other than those they target.
That problem is real.
This is not going to be solved by just rukun tetangga, or vigilantism. It is solved by constant localised dialogue and exchange. A community that is building a sense of oneness through its own processes becomes safer – because the homes now become extensions. Therefore the security of other homes are seen as key to their own security.