Security and peace of mind…

Posted on April 3, 2012


Last month, the Global Peace Index (GPI) report positioned Malaysia as the safest country in Southeast Asia and 19th safest in the world, based on a 2011 study.

Amazing isnt’ it?

I’m pretty sure some people in our country or even in Sarawak may be skeptical about that finding.

People who have had their bags snatched or their houses robbed or their family and friends hurt or worse, by the lesser elements in our society, would of course argue with the said report.

You might say: “How can you say Malaysia is the safest country in South East Asia when I just saw someone get mugged?…I saw this mugging with my own eyes, mind you!”

Or you could also assert: “My neighbours and friends have had their cars stolen right from under their noses. This didn’t happen to just anyone, mind you…This happened to people I actually KNOW!”

So how can anyone in their right mind claim that Malaysia is the safest country in South East Asia and the 19th safest in the world?

I believe now that the key is all about context.

In the context of bombs being blown up and killing dozens of people…I believe we are pretty safe.

In the context of being kidnapped for ransom…I believe we are pretty safe.

In the context of being shot by gun-toting righteous types or loony types…I believe we are pretty safe.

In the context of my property being trashed by rioting mobs…I believe we are pretty safe.

And that’s just in the context of Malaysia!

If I start to think about it in the context of Sarawak…I believe we are even safer, don’t you?

Sure I’ve been to Singapore and felt ridiculously safe about walking along Orchard Road…but comparing that country with ours in terms of feeling safe walking in the city streets is like comparing apples and dabai.

For God’s sake, that little country knows when I just threw my cigarette butt on the sidewalk…or when I just spat out my contraband chewing gum into the drain!

And when it comes to national security, it’s got Israel and America to cover its back, so of course it’s safe! But at what cost that safety, I don’t know and I’m not even interested to know.

Anyway, I count my blessings that I live in Sarawak, where peace and security and harmony still exist…but sadly they’re things, which are generally taken for granted.

Sure we’ve still got our fair share of scumbags – we still need to stop our local muggers, snatch thieves, burglars, gangsters, murderers, extortionists, etc.

But at least on the whole we’re pretty OK and I hope you figure that out too…and not be TOO surprised if studies show we’re not doing badly in term of safety and security.

* The context of this posting is the bombings that occurred in southern Thailand last week, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.

How a columnist in The Star Sarawak Edition felt about safety and security in his own country:

Let’s not be syok sendiri
By Yu Ji
Midin Salad (Column in The Star Sarawak Edition)

Published March 14, 2012

EVEN when statistics are recorded correctly, they can still be misleading.

Take for example this stat, which is completely true: Iceland has the most number of Nobel Prize winners per capita than any other country.

The US is the country that has the most Nobel Prize winners (at 323 winners to date) but if you live in Iceland, you are more likely than any other citizen of any nation in the world to be more brilliant and earn a Nobel Prize.

So what makes the Icelanders so smart? Well, countries that are small, stable and democratic (Iceland’s Parliament began in the year 947) usually have high standards of living, which in turn drive innovation and progress.

But the statistic is misleading however accurate.

Confused? Iceland has in fact produced just one Nobel Prize winner, and that was in 1955 when Halldor Laxness won for iterature.

The tiny country can only claim to have the most number of Nobel Prize winners per capita because its population is so small.

Iceland has just 320,000 people; that makes it smaller than half of Kuching.

So, now that we’ve established how misleading statistics can be, let’s turn to one statistic the Government was touting recently.

Late last week the Government announced in a press statement that Malaysia was ranked the 19th “safest” country in the world.

I was a little stunned looking at that statement.

Not only did it said the ranking was endorsed by globally respected publication The Economist, but also that Malaysia was ranked — and remember, we are talking public safety here — above Singapore.

Malaysia is a safer country than Singapore? Since when?

So about an hour after I saw the press statement, the news hit the web, and quickly made the rounds on Facebook.

It seemed most Malaysians do not feel safer than Singaporeans.

One Facebook user commented, “Those who believe that are living in Lalaland”. Another said, “The moon isn’t even safer than Singapore”.

In the Government statement, it placed particular emphasis on the word “safety”. The statement also heaped praise for the police and Rela.

What was rather obscure, however, was the actual name of the list that ranked Malaysia so high.

Well it turns out the list is in fact called the Global Peace Index (GPI).

The index ranked a total of 153 nations according to about 50 indicators, from education levels to corruption perception and regional integration.

Although it does take safety as an indicator, the GPI is not expressly about safety in the way the Government statement was trying to indicate.

In fact, one area where Malaysia fared below Singapore was in public safety!

In the GPI’s safety section based on the UN Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems findings, it states homicides are twice as likely in Malaysia than in Singapore.

That statistic hardly reflects Malaysia as the “safest country in South-East Asia” as touted in the press statement.

On other indicators like corruption perception, Malaysia also did not score well: We are at 4.4 out of a maximum of 10 on clean governance, while Singapore stands at 9.3. For comparison sake, Thailand scored a dismal 3.5.

In terms of civil liberties: Malaysia scored 5.88; Singapore, 7.35; and even Thailand is at 7.06.

In the category of “functioning government” (which the Index defines as “Whether freely elected representatives determine government policy? Is there an effective system of checks and balances on the exercise of government authority?”) Malaysia scored 6.79, Singapore achieved 7.5 and Thailand received, 6.07.

My point here is not to belittle Malaysia’s GPI accomplishment. We scored remarkably well in aspects of political stability, internal and external conflict and in terms of relations with other countries.

At the same time, Singapore — ranked 24th overall in the index — was below Malaysia in terms of media freedom and political participation.

But remember, this is an index measuring peace in the global context, not an index for public safety.

Let’s not be syok sendiri (self-indulgent).

We’ve got to look at the fine print, and the fine print does not say Malaysia is safest when it comes to criminal behaviour in South-East Asia.


How The New Straits Times reported it:

Report: Malaysia safest country in Southeast Asia (Extract)

Published April 1st, 2012

EFFORTS to reduce crime under the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) have shown positive results, with index crimes dropping by 11.1 per cent and street crimes by nearly 50 per cent since 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Under the NKRAs, he said, numerous initiatives had been taken to reduce crime and make Malaysia a safe country for all.

“Positive results can also be seen from the last year’s Global Peace Index (GPI) report, which positioned Malaysia as the safest country in Southeast Asia and 19th safest in the world,” he said at the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) Gold Award presentation ceremony in conjunction with the foundation’s 19th annual general meeting yesterday.

Present were Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar and MCPF vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Muhyiddin, who is MCPF chairman, said the results proved that the commitment of the Barisan Nasional-led government as well as the holistic effort by the police and MCPF had resulted in a safer environment for all.

He said only three per cent of police reserve volunteers were from the Chinese community, while the participation from the Indian community was 10 per cent.

Six police stations were given the MCPF Gold Award at the event. They were the Taman Johor Jaya police station in Johor, Sea Park police station in Selangor, Panching police station in Pahang, Sungai Bakap police station in Penang, Tambunan police station in Sabah and Sentral Sibu police station in Sarawak.

“The recognition (by GPI) and the reduction in the number of crimes show that the police have strengthened their planning and implementation strategies, as well as activities concerning security.

“Apart from the initiatives by the police, society, too, should galvanise efforts to achieve the objective of making Malaysia a prosperous and safe country.”

Muhyiddin said the family institution and noble values should continue to be upheld and nurtured as these could be a shield against social problems which threatened society.

Read the full story at: