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M'sian media split over how to deal with violent crimes
Publication Date : 09-08-2013
The Malaysian media is split into well-known default positions - with the English and Malay print and TV media steadfastly pro-government, and the Chinese and online media more critical of the authorities.
Not surprisingly, they are equally split over how to deal with a spate of violent crimes that have transfixed Malaysians in recent months.
The pro-government media wants the police to have more powers - including bringing back detention without trial - to tackle hardcore criminals.
"Thanks to the human rights advocates who successfully pushed for abolition of the EO (Emergency Ordinance) and the Banishment Act, many of these hardcore criminals are back in business," Wong Chun Wai, group chief editor of The Star, the country's largest English daily, wrote in a column on Sunday.
He is among those calling for the return of preventive laws like Emergency Ordinance, which was repealed in 2011. Some 2,600 EO detainees were later released.
The "alternative" media in turn is calling for the police to put more officers on the beat, step up investigations, and clean up the police force itself of criminal elements - rather than rely on preventive laws.
"If police think such powers are necessary to curb violent crime, then surely they must be amenable to independent investigation of serious crimes, including murder in the lock-ups, by their own kind," KiniBiz editor P. Gunasegaram wrote in a commentary on news website Malaysiakini.
A commentary last Friday on Sin Chew Daily's English portal called for the police to conduct "investigative policing".
"We do not need to throw more money at them to tackle serious and organised crime," wrote Sin Chew political columnist Bob Teoh. "What we need is better policing."
The first day of the Aidilfitri holiday season brought little respite from the crime spree.
A 37-year-old convicted drug trafficker was shot and killed in broad daylight in Penang as he stopped his car at a traffic crossing yesterday morning.
His was the 13th shooting in two weeks, and he was the sixth person to die.
High-profile shooting victims in recent weeks have included a banker, who was killed, and the head of a crime watchdog, who survived.
Although overall crime is falling, violent crime is rising.
From January to June, violent crime rose to 15,098 incidents from 14,811 in the same period last year. The number of murders jumped to 322 from 291.
The University of Sydney's GunPolicy.org gun safety website estimates that there are 370,000 guns in civilian hands in Malaysia, or 1.5 guns per 100 people.
Next month, the government is expected to table new laws to arrest the rising violent crime rates.
Civil rights groups have urged the authorities not to reinstate preventive laws.
"This is an issue that cuts across partisan lines and race, and everyone needs to submit proposals to tackle the rising crime," said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.