How to protect ourselves against ‘security guards’ — Dave Avran

NOV 2 — Two armed robberies by security guards in just over a week. On October 23, a security guard shot dead AmBank officer Norazita Abu Talib in Subang Jaya and escaped with RM450,000.

On October 31, a security guard robbed a jewellery outlet he was supposed to be guarding at the KL Festival City Mall in Setapak and made off with a tray of gold jewellery.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar says it is possible that the second security guard carried out a copycat robbery after the first security guard struck. He does not rule out more cases involving security guards who rob their employers. This is a frightening development.

There are 751 private security firms licensed to operate in Malaysia. Of these, 125 have been granted firearms licences.

This situation raises many questions since it is reported that both the robber security guards and seven of their associates who have been arrested are all Sabahans who were carrying fake MyKads.

First, shouldn’t all security companies have immediately gone through their list of guards after the AmBank incident?

How could a well-established security service provider such as Prima have engaged a guard without proper vetting or security background checks?

Then there’s the guard’s application for a firearm permit. Was it submitted using the fake MyKad? If yes, how did it get approved?

Did the guard get his salary banked into his bank account? How did he acquire a bank account with a fake MyKad when a biometric thumbprint verification is standard requirement?

What about his group insurance, EPF and Socso accounts? Were they also created with the fake MyKad? How did these slip through the verification processes?

MARAH has been reliably informed that the recruitment of security guards is a competitive business and that the bigger security companies sub-contract their work out to smaller unqualified firms for mutual profit.

Thus the vetting and hiring of security guards is basically left to the discretion of their sub-contractors, who in turn cut costs by hiring substandard guards and skipping the training process.

Such unhealthy practices allow the sub-contractors to offer their security services at lower costs compared with “proper” companies whose guards go through the stringent vetting and training processes.

Banks must always insist that their security company produces the vetting and training documents as proof before hiring them.

On the alarming subject of fake MyKads, on October 30, 2013, National Registration Department director-general Datuk Jariah Mohd Said claimed that the MyKad was a document of high quality that could not be cloned. She said MyKad could only be tampered with by changing the photo and details on the surface of the original card, but not the information and security features embedded in the card or chip.

On the same day, Asian Professional Security Association Malaysia chapter president Datuk Seri Mustapa Ali said fake MyKads could easily be obtained for RM200 to RM600 a piece. So who are we supposed to believe?

MARAH understands that one cannot fake the chip on the MyKad. The data inside is both cryptologically safe and immutable. What can be faked is the physical plastic and the printed information and picture, therefore the solution is to get Mykad readers and devices to read the data on the chip for verification. The application programme interface for these and the dongles are relatively cheap and easily available so it would be cost-effective for the private sector, including security companies, to use this method.

Other suggestions we can offer would be the scanning of fingerprints before security guards are issued firearms, and yearly review of gun permits for renewal.

At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of security companies to submit criminal background checks of recruits to PDRM for vetting. Because of the current cases of fake MyKads, security guards should be checked by the National Registration Department as well.

We would also recommend the setting up of a centralised monitoring body and national security guard database.

* Dave Avran is founder of Malaysians Against Rape, Assault & snatcH theft (MARAH).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.