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SECURITY AND PROPERTIES

Inspector General of the Royal Malaysian Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar talks about aspects of security and dishes advice for property investors and developers

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Safety is one of the key indicators investors think of before purchasing a property. Its importance is acknowledged universally, so much so, that property sellers use it as a strong selling point.

The safer an area is, the higher the value of a property would be. For a housing estate, a good safety level means there are fewer crimes such as home burglary or home intrusion. But these days, the crimes are not limited to just those. Incidents such as rape, gunning and even bombing, too, are starting to make local headlines.

For those with strong purchasing power, hiring a home guard or using hi-tech home safety features might not be an issue. But those without such means are highly dependable on the public and the police.

Inspector General of the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar spent some time to speak to Property Insight on the importance for the public and the police force to work hand-in-hand to ensure citizens get to live safely in their respective housing areas.

“Safety level of an area is measured by crime index. As a whole, crimes are divided into two types – property crimes and violent crimes,” Tan Sri Khalid explained. “In Malaysia, the crime index is -11.3 (Jan to Sept 2013) and this is considered low. In 2013, the total crime was 16,844 cases while in 2014 there were 14,944 cases,” he added.

“The crime index figures are calculated via a computerised system,” he emphasised, adding, “There is no way we can manipulate the figures and I am very strict about this. The figures are important so that we know what actions need to be taken to curb crimes.”

Speaking at his office in Bukit Aman police headquarters, he reassured property investors that Malaysia’s housing areas are safe. Despite the low crime index, there are some quarters who feel that the country is still lacking with regard to safety, and Tan Sri Khalid blamed the ease in information-sharing for it.

“Nowadays, if a crime takes place, somebody will share the incident on the social media channels and later it became viral. Eventually the issue is blown out of proportions and this creates fear among the public,” he said.

“The fact is our crime index is low,” Tan Sri Khalid asserted. “Most crimes in the country are committed by the locals, and foreign people account for only 15 to 20 percent of the crimes. We keep telling people this but still, they think otherwise,” he added.

In Malaysia, according to the Inspector General, the main hotspots for crimes are Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor. This proves that the most developed areas are prone to crimes due to their population density. In the Klang Valley area, the main contributors of crimes are Petaling Jaya and Damansara.

“Nowadays we included Perak, too, in the hotspots list,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

Reducing crimes is one of the elements in the country’s National Key Results Areas (NKRA) and the Royal Malaysian Police is working tirelessly to meet NKRA’s safety-related objective. “So far, RMP has managed to reduce crimes by 20 percent through many initiatives. The government has given us about 2,000 motorcycles to be used by our officers in the Patrol Unit. This eases patrolling by the officers in housing areas as well as in commercial centres,” the IGP said.

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Tan Sri Khalid mentioned that ever since the initiation of the patrol unit, there are less crimes reported. According to him, the patrol is being done 24 hours a day, with emphasis on night time.

Other than the motorcycle patrolling, there is also the RMP’s Horse Squad, which is targeted at monitoring the public’s safety during events such as demonstration or at public areas “We do patrolling with horses but of course there are limitations given that the horses need proper caretaking,” Tan Sri Khalid shared.

He said that, at the International level, the ratio is typically set at one policeman to 250 people. However, according to him, this ratio may not be applicable today. “I think the ratio should be bigger but I can’t say for sure what is the ideal norm for this ratio. However, rest assured…we do have enough [police officers],” said Tan Sri Khalid adding that there are about 120,000 police officers in the country and all are enforcement officers.

The frequent presence of patrolling police officers will diminish chances of crimes occurring. “Criminals are opportunists,” he emphasised. “They don’t discriminate; once there is an opportunity they will grab it. It doesn’t matter whether you have a luxurious home or not. Once the opportunity is present, there is chance for a crime to take place. That is why we should not give that opportunity and be very careful at all times,” added Tan Sri Khalid.

So, what should property investors do when a crime happens in their homes or in their housing areas? Tan Sri Khalid advised that, if such event takes place, ideally the public should immediately ring the police force.

“You must know the contact number of the police stations near your home. Keep it at a place where the numbers are easily seen. The response time depends on the location. In the city centre, the response time is set at 15 minutes. More often than not, we respond much earlier than that. But in rural areas, it may take longer due to proximity issue,” he said.

Tan Sri Khalid reminded the public that the police are always available to serve and protect the public. “We are here for you, no matter what. All the officers, regardless of their divisions, are responsible to look after public’s safety. Even the traffic police will be acting on request by the public to look after their safety. That’s why we often hear stories where traffic police officers caught snatch thieves, and so on,” he said.

“Sometimes, you may not know that the person next to you is a police officer. They are not always in uniform (plain-clothes officers) and will be among the public, working in disguise while monitoring the situation and keeping the order,” Tan Sri Khalid added.

The police also encourage the public to always keep an open eye on the happenings in their housing areas, according to Tan Sri Khalid. If there are any suspicious activities in their housing areas, citizens are advised to alert the police quickly. This concept is called ‘Community-Policing’ where the public works hand-in-hand with the police force to monitor their area’s safety, shared the IGP.

“This is what we want. You are the best watchdog,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

When asked about community arrest, the Inspector General of Police said that, under certain circumstances, the public is allowed to perform ‘citizen arrest’.

“It is permissible by law but must never be abused. I am not encouraging people to do it but if it is necessary then you can do it, provided there are other people to assist you and the situation permits you to do so,” he said.

“If you perform the citizen arrest, you have to contact the police and let the police deal with the suspected criminals. Do not cause any physical attacks to the suspect and do not go over-limit,” he added.

The RMP fully supports any Neighbourhood Watch or Resident’s Association in maintaining an area’s safety. The police will be assisting them and the government has even allocated funds for the Neighbourhood Watch.

“In fact, the Resident’s Association can apply through the local government (Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government) for funds to do any patrol activities. The police can offer advice to the associations,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

While there are individuals who do not care much about Resident’s Association and refuse to put in any contribution on efforts to ensure their housing area’s safety, the Inspector General lauded  residents who volunteer their time and energy in policing their own neighbourhood. “I think it is good for the community to come together and work to look after the area’s safety. They get to generate better ties amongst them,” Tan Sri Khalid added.

Some Resident’s Associations do appoint outsourced security companies to look after their housing area, though this is optional and depends on the willingness of the people in the area. “The appointment of the security company is under the purview of the Resident’s Association, not the police,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

In 2010, the Royal Malaysian Police collaborated with the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government to introduce the Safe City program, which is still currently up and running, where the RMP plays an advisory role to any safety-related development.

In that respect, Tan Sri Khalid highly encouraged property developers to seek advice from the RMP before commencing with their development plan.

The police can inform them of any feature in their development that can promote better safety, according to him. “I always tell developers to include the police when they are in the planning stage of their development. We could be present at their meetings and give our ideas too,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

“Incorporate us in your planning,” he advised property developers. “Don’t do this at a later stage. That is why sometimes you don’t see any police stations in an area because there is a failure to include the police in the planning stage,” Tan Sri Khalid said.

“We would like to be in tandem with the development and have the synergy with property developers to ensure the safety of the public,” he concluded in the end.

“The fact is our crime index is low. Most crimes in the country are committed by the locals, and foreign people account for only 15 to 20 percent of the crimes. We keep telling people this but still, they think otherwise.

-TAN SRI KHALID

“I always tell developers to include the police when they are in the planning stage of their development. We could be present at their meetings and give our ideas too. Incorporate us in your planning; don’t do this at a later stage. That is why sometimes you don’t see any police stations in an area because there is a failure to include the police in the planning stage.

 -Tan sri khalid

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