Community News

Date: 03.01.10

Of Unpopular Drums and Roadblocks

An interesting feedback by YB Dr. Cheah, syndicated from his blog


An anonymous reader left a comment on an earlier post - I thought I would publish both the comment and my response here, as this matter affects a growing number of neighbourhoods in the constituency.

"Dr. Cheah,

Good evenng...just out of curiosity.Isn't all these security programme within public roads illegal? Especially when there are drums being used to block lanes as well as roads. SOME RESIDENTS THINK THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO CURB CRIME....BUT HOW EFFECTIVE IT IS by shifting the crime elsewhere. Everywhere we go in PJ..we see barriers being build and roads and lanes being blocked. Where is the law. It seems that lawlessness is taking shape nowadays. Gosh...what has happen to our nation. I THINK most of these security companies are really happy making tonnes of money nowadays.

ps: i understand that as a politician..and lawmaker....we are bound to solve problems and obey the law of the land and not create more like what we are seeing nowadays."

My response to "Anonymous" and others who have raised the same concerns to me on numerous occasions:

Of Unpopular Drums and Roadblocks

Annoying and costly irritants indeed, well said. Politicians are there to solve problems and not to merely divert or push them elsewhere, how true. But there are several REAL issues in this matter. It apears as SIMPLE as it is COMPLEX.

We all agree that security should be and is largely a police matter. Somehow things have broken down. And there we go into politics again.

Solutions are immediate (short-term, stop-gap, temporary) and long-term. The ultimate solution is a combination of adequate and efficient policing, and adequate employment for the rakyat. One hard fact is that the police force is severely understaffed and, to make matters worse, many claim also 'improperly-deployed'.

In reality the problem brewed over past decades (and may I say the voter-rakyat indirectly assisted in this development through the action/omission of duties of the government they elected!).

Righting this - which includes the training of adequate numbers of qualified policemen - takes time. In the meantime, with the economic recession, under employment, immigrant issues and so on, friends, relatives, daugthers, wives, neighbours are getting robbed and mugged. There is unfortunately no magic wand to churn out policemen.

Shout in parliment! Yes, some MPs have indeed been doing so. But until voices like that of our PJU MP, YB Tony Pua, are heeded (Tony has raised and debated the crime rate issue in Parliament), we have little choice but to engage in 'self-preservation'. Is that selfish? Hardly, I believe.

The wakil rakyat has a responsibility to look after the weaker segments of the society. Who should or will protect the frail senior citizens, single parents, single ladies who stay by themselves? We can't afford to wait for 'adequate police forces'. The community is force to take the initiative. Unfortunately, it is neither 'cheap' nor easy.

But isn't the government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, supposed to provide a safe and secure environment for the citizens? Yes, but the rakyat had better act first because the federal response has been unsatisfactory so far, and politicking will not prevent your daughter from being mugged tomorrow!

So, communities who 'pay for security' are now indeed safer. This is the hard fact and an indictment of the home ministry.

The rakyat must bark at the right tree; the right tree being the Federal government comprising the ruling Barsian Nasional and dominant UMNO party, not the elected representatives of Pakatan Rakyat . We in Pakatan Rakyat are doing necessary stop-gap, prophylactic (preventive) measures to reduce the incidence of girls and the elderly from being mugged.

Is it nice to have boom gates all over our housing estates? Of course not! But with our (PR's) proposal of employing auxillary police to help the existing police force still unapproved, many communities have decided to "just do what you have to do"!

Perhaps the criminals will now move to the unguarded areas? Yes, that is the case. But surely the Federal government should realise that too? So, once again, the rakyat must bark at the right tree, because it is the Federal government (not the individual state governments) that has holds power and authority in all matters involving security and the police force.

Someone has remarked that, economically, Malaysia is like Zimbabwe, and, security-wise, we are going to be like South Africa.

Private security programmes - this is the unpleasant short-term answer. God knows how many dialogues we have engaged with the police! The police at the beatbases are understaffed and overworked; the definitive, long-term answers clearly lie at a higher management and political level.

In the meantime, we may have to get used to drums and boom gates - expensive and ugly inconveniences - in the landscape. So, to those who hold that "security is the duty of the government, and not my responsibility - why should I pay?", I say, think of the safety of your loved ones, swallow your pride and your lofty ideals until such a time that the federal government in power (and this is determined by the voter!) takes effective measures to reduce the crime rate in our communities.

I'll just finish off by saying that my wife has been mugged once (right in front of the home too!) and has had her bag snatched three times. I, myself, now pay about RM 300 per month for security!