Wednesday, May 6, 2009


A cowardly act of violence against an elderly. (Photo: The Star)

As a Johorean, I am aghast at the high crime rate in Johor. The latest incident was reported in the papers only this morning. A pregnant woman died after robbers pulled her off her motorcycle in Air Hitam, Johor. On April 22, an 80-year old man was slashed by robbers on bikes in Johor Bahru despite handing over his cash and watch to them. What kind of demented mind would prompt such a dastardly act of violence against a defenceless citizen? And that’s not all. Last month a Singaporean was slashed to death in a parang attack in Kulai, Johor. I can understand the concern of the our neighbours whenever they cross the causeway into Johor to shop or visit relatives or friends.

The Singapore-JB causeway is all that separates a region with a low crime rate from one that's at the other end of the scale.

Over the past few years, the crime rate has steadily risen in Johor. Back in 2006, Johor had already recorded 6.171 cases in just three months from January to March. The state capital, Johor Bahru (JB), in particular, has won noteriety as the city with the highest crime rate in Malaysia. And these are only the reported cases.

The state's crime prevention efforts don't seem to have much lasting success, as evident by the recent spike in criminal attacks. According to a news report in The Star, in January this year Johor police managed to nap four guys selling an array of deadly weapons in the carpark of a supermarket. Among the items seized were 87 Samurai swords, three crossbows with 200 ball bearings and 63 arrows, seven batons, five knives, five parangs and five nunchakus (two metal or wooden sticks connected by a chain, popularised by Bruce Lee in his movies). With such easy access to weapons, it's no wonder armed attacks are on the increase.

What has happened to the JB I used to love? I was born in Batu Pahat, Johor, but spent my coming-of-age years studying Form 6 at English College in JB. Life was simple and safe in the 1960s. I recall strolling the streets late at night with my housemates, looking for supper. There was no cause for us to be wary of snatch thieves, pick-pockets, rapists or armed robbers. Now I would think twice before venturing out of my sister's house in JB even in broad daylight.

It's the oft-repeated story of plenty of laws and preventive measures in place, but a dearth of enforcement. A policeman on duty in JB is a rare sight. A visitor can probably see more illegal immigrants and vagrants in this city than law enforcement officers. Of course, the police will continue to issue press statements with statistics to back up their claim that the crime rate has gone down in many states, including Johor. But figures can be an illusion.

Instead of relying solely on the police to protect us, as responsible citizens we should also be more pro-active about our personal safety. The National Crime Prevention Council of Singapore has an excellent website that lists preventive measures citizens can take to protect themselves against crimes ranging from armed robbery to motor vehicles theft. Malaysians can pick up more than a tip or two from this website than from the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation website which, unfortunately, contains more photos of dignitaries and press releases than anything useful.

1 comment:

Starmandala said...

Criminals begat criminality. Don't forget Johore is an Umno stronghold ruled by a bendahara bloodline not known to conduct themselves lawfully!