Expats worried about crime in Malaysia

July 11, 2012
Jala’s Pemandu has tried to address growing fears about crime in Malaysia. — File pic
PETALING JAYA, July 11 — The recent spate of crime is causing expatriates to fear for their safety and could impact Malaysia’s efforts to attract talent to deal with its skills shortage, a senior human resource manager with a major multinational told a conference here today.
This comes after a string of high-profile crimes — including the kidnapping of 12-year old Nayati Moodliar, the son of a Dutch expatriate that made international headlines — were committed in the last few months, sparking heated debates over public safety.
“When I talk to expats in Shell, there is a growing insecurity with regards to safety,” said Darrel Devan Lourdes, country human resource manager for Shell Malaysia, at a conference on human resources here.
He noted that the living environment was an issue that Malaysia, which is trying to graduate to developed nation status, needed to address as part of its initiative to shore up its talent base.
“Talent will stay in Malaysia if it’s liveable,” he said.
Lourdes said later at the sidelines of the conference that whether the fears were based on perception or reality was up for debate, but the sense of “insecurity” among expatriates was undeniable.
The apparently growing trend of shocking crime incidents have put government officials on the defensive, with the home minister having to deny that there was any surge in the country’s crime rate.
The government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) chief executive Datuk Seri Idris Jala also asked the media to stop sensationalising crime cases to help arrest the “doom and gloom” surrounding the issue.
Crime is one of the key result areas of Pemandu’s Government Transformation Programme.
The official figures and any change in mainstream reporting may have little impact on public perception, however, given the strength of social media that has been key in spreading news of some crime incidences.
News of Nayati’s kidnapping first surfaced in Facebook while another victim of a kidnapping attempt, Chin Xin-Ci, also posted her ordeal of being attacked by two men at a shopping mall car park on popular social networking site, before the stories quickly went viral and were later picked up by mainstream media.
Word-of-mouth is also something that is beyond the control of the government.
“Malaysians like to talk,” noted Lourdes.
In the latest high profile crime to be reported, the mother of a Penang federal lawmaker was robbed at knifepoint in a pre-dawn home invasion in George Town this morning.
Other cases which made headlines in recent weeks include an ATM robbery at a hypermarket that saw about RM1.2 million in cash carted away; a carjacking and kidnapping of a Singaporean family in Johor and a Malacca clerk who died after she fell off her motorbike after being attacked by two men.
Following the string of ATM robberies, banks are also now mulling moving their ATMs located in malls, supermarkets, petrol and rail stations to alternative locations.

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