KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — With Putrajaya and the police constantly blaming the recent crime wave on former Emergency Ordinance (EO) detainees, Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers are now demanding to know why these alleged criminals have yet to be arrested.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly suggested over the weekend that, including the just-released 2,600 EO detainees and their loyal followers, there are now some 266,000 criminals roaming the streets.
“If all these violent crimes are indeed caused by the recent EO detainees, the question must be asked as to why these seemingly guilty suspects have yet to be arrested?” DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told The Malay Mail Online when contacted here.
“There’s the additional question that these violent criminals, if convicted, would have to serve time in prison for anything up to life sentences. But if they are arrested under the EO, they would only be detained without trial for two years.
“How can the crime rate be resolved once they’ve served their detention?” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP asked.
In an interview with Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia’s weekend edition Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday, Zahid said the police force had lost its powers after the abolition of laws that allowed for detention without trial, such as the EO and the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960.
The newly-minted home minister also said that the police force has yet to increase its manpower and upgrade its resources in line with the repeal of the EO and the Restricted Residence Act.
According to Singapore daily The Straits Times last Friday, 24 people have been killed in a spate of shooting incidents in Malaysia since April 12.
Public shootings have risen to almost one every day since July 26, international business wire Bloomberg reported last Thursday, citing police data.
The police say that the gun-related crimes are the result of a gangland turf war among former EO detainees who are battling to reassert their power.
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told The Malay Mail Online yesterday that preventive detention laws are a “crutch” that will weaken the police force in the long run.
“If they have an EO, they’ll continue to hide behind the law because they don’t have to do proper investigation,” said Rafizi.
“They don’t need to be careful about the evidence they collect. This will set the police force 10 to 15 years behind, compared to other countries in the world or in the region,” added the Pandan MP.
He also said that reintroducing preventive detention laws would “bury that discussion on how to modernise our police force all together”.
“It’s precisely because of the complication and sophistication of today’s crime that I think not having the EO will compel our police force to really upgrade their capability to catch up with the crime they have to handle,” said Rafizi.
PAS central working committee member Khalid Samad told The Malay Mail Online yesterday that the way to cut crime was to strengthen the capability of the police, and not to reintroduce preventive detention laws.
“What they should concentrate on is effective deployment and training of the police force,” said the Shah Alam MP.
Anti-crime watchdog MyWatch said recently that Malaysia now has gun rental services with each weapon going for less than a night’s stay at a local five-star hotel, while ammunition is even cheaper than a bottle of water.
MyWatch co-founder S. Gobi Krishnan told The Malay Mail Online that the rental service began last year, with drug syndicates renting out guns to hitmen for as little as RM300 for three hours and selling bullets for just 80 sen each.
According to Gobi, the most commonly available gun for rent is the Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Popular with law enforcement agencies worldwide, the Glock is also issued to members of the police force, Customs Department enforcers, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), and authorised RELA personnel.
He also said that the trend was inspired by powerful drug cartels in Mexico and South Africa.
The recent wave of gun violence has caught Malaysians by surprise as Malaysia has strict gun control laws that allow people to own firearms only if they have a licence from the Inspector-General of Police.
Gun trafficking in Malaysia carries the death penalty or life imprisonment under section 7 of the Firearms Act 1971, while illegal possession stipulates a maximum 14-year jail term and a minimum six strokes of the rotan (cane).
Consorting with a criminal convicted of illegal gun possession also carries the same penalty under the Act.