Thursday, June 6, 2013

Penang Discovers Its Crime Problem after GE13 Safely Ended

In the year before GE13, Pakatan Rakyat – and especially Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng – claimed that crime was on the rise throughout Malaysia, that the Government was hiding this and that only in Pakatan-controlled states was the rakyat safe.

The elections have come and gone, so the situation may now return to normal. And – surprise, surprise – Guan Eng has admitted that crime is on the rise in Penang – still a Pakatan-controlled state – and has asked for the Federal Government's assistance.

Were the victims of crime Guan Eng and Pakatan's leadership rather than innocent people, the irony would be palpable.

Guan Eng has urged the police to step up surveillance and vigilance after the state apparently deemed it safe to admit that it has a crime problem. "Schools are also being broken into so we want the police to increase surveillance," he said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that unmanned prevention was not sufficient to arrest the crime increase. "Even though we have CCTVs, there were break-ins at schools; we hope the police focus on reducing crime rate in the state," he said.

Penang's voters might be forgiven if they wonder why this issue was not addressed before GE13, when many of the stories of an increasing crime rate seemed disproportionately to come from the DAP-run state. They might also wonder why Guan Eng did not ask for the Federal Government's assistance.

They might wonder, at the same moment, why Penang – held up as a shining example of the wonders that flow from Pakatan Rakyat governance – is experiencing an increase in the crime rate even as foreign direct investment into the state slows.

Modern theories of police work, embraced by the Government, hold that crime does not simply happen, but is instead a result of the surrounding environment. If there is a general disregard for the small parts of the law, major crime is more likely to happen. If small crimes go unpunished, major crimes are more likely.
This means that George Town is failing on two counts. It is fostering an environment conducive to crime, and it waited to ask for police deterrence until the crime rate had already climbed to the point at which it could not be denied.

It should be noted that Guan Eng, as is his personal tradition, has admitted no wrongdoing by his government, nor has he promised any change in how the state is run. He would not be Guan Eng if he had.
But if he failed in basic honesty in the lead-up to GE13 – as appears to be the case – he owes the rakyat that honesty now. He promised good governance; now is the time to deliver.

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