Monday, 25 June 2012

Crime statistics: ‘Stop the spin’

It would only lull people into a false sense of security, says the PJ Utara MP, Tony Pua.

KUALA LUMPUR: Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua today alleged that the government was fond of “spinning” crime statistics and only releasing selective “feel good” numbers to show that the country is safe, when the reality is otherwise.

The DAP publicity chief also took Pemandu chief executive Idris Jala to task for telling the media to report on the number of cases solved and not to sensationalise crimes.

“The government must stop the spin on the crime situation in the country. Pemandu and the Home Ministry must stop saying that the figures [on crime rates] is a matter of perception.

“There is absolutely no question that people do not feel safe on the streets regardless of the many ‘feel good’ selective statistics the government has released to the public,” said Pua.

He added that people should be allowed to decide if they are convinced of their safety.

Idris was quoted in The Star as saying: “If the statistics are not convincing, perhaps then we should try to dwell on how the police were able to bring the crime rates down in specific areas.

“They should work closely with the police on reporting the cases that they have successfully solved. Sometimes, we need to arrest the doom and gloom by also focusing on the positives.”

Criticising Jala’s statement, Pua asked why, if the government was so confident of its crime-fighting achievements, it was refusing to provide detailed crime statistics.

“Why can’t you answer my simple question on crime statistics by districts and by types? In the past, there was never a problem getting these statistics,” he said.

Pua cited the recent spate of robberies and attempted abductions at various shopping centres in the past month.

“My special assistant had her house broken into in Taman Desa just last week. And if crime is indeed on the rise, the media must not be faulted for reporting them. In fact, they have the responsibility to report them to ensure that the public are alerted and take necessary precautions,” he said.

‘Govt lied’

Pua said that in “safer” countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, crime is similarly reported but the people continue to feel safe in those countries.

“The government’s attempt to gag the media from reporting crime incidences will only result in a false sense of security, and may result in more innocent victims falling prey.”

Pemandu, tasked with helping the police reduce crime under its Government Transformation Programme (GTP), has repeatedly defended statistics showing street crime has fallen by 40% in the past two years despite a recent spate of high-profile kidnappings and assaults.

In a separate matter, Pua alleged that the Prime Minister’s Department had lied when it gave a written response saying that the Election Commission (EC) does not have statistics of new voters based on political parties.

“I am shocked at the answer that there are no breakdown based on parties or by state. This is a big lie by the prime minister,” said Pua, pointing to two new reports which quoted EC as providing details of new voters based on political parties and states.

“Why are they refusing to give out these details? This gives rise to the suspicion that there is hanky- panky going on and strengthens our doubt that BN is planting voters, especially foreigners in the voter roll.”

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