Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The repeal of the Emergency Ordinance saw some 2,000 detainees being freed. If even a third of them returned to crime, that means there are about 800 hardcore criminals running loose in the country.
Police, however, believe the number could be far bigger.
Most of the youths released from detention under the EO usually return to their old ways, a police officer said.
The assistant superintendent from Perak, who requested anonymity, said that when the EO was in effect, these individuals were kept off the streets.
“As soon as they were off the leash, it was back to breaking the law,” he said in an interview.
This was inevitable as crime is the only livelihood former detainees were accustomed to, he said.
“All they need to do is make a telephone call and they will be ‘hooked up’. Some need not even make that call; they almost immediately get ‘recruited’.”
Add to this situation the seemingly easy availability of firearms all the way from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Johor, and we have a scary scenario on our hands.
With violent snatch thefts, assaults and robberies of restaurant and their patrons, even food outlets are resorting to hiring armed guards to protect them.
Others are keeping their doors locked, only allowing regular patrons into their premises.
The ASP also said many former detainees were capable of anything, even robbing wedding guests at religious premises.
“There have been many such cases when temple weddings were held during the wee hours, an auspicious time for Hindus,” he said.
“Robbers see this as an ‘auspicious’ time, too. It is ideal for them – it’s 5am, it’s dark and there’s no real security.
“Also, they know that women wear jewellery during these functions,” the ASP said.
On why the former detainees escaped prosecution, the source said it was difficult to find incriminating evidence against them.
“Most of them are gang members. To society, they are ruthless and intimidating. Witnesses are not forthcoming; it is hard to gather concrete proof to put the suspects behind bars.”
“Many of them are also either on drugs or are pushers themselves,” another senior police officer said.
He said that while addicts on traditional drugs like ganja and heroin could be sent for rehabilitation programmes, those on amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) like syabu have greater feeling of confidence and were harder to control.
There was also no tailored rehabilitation programmes for this group, who only use the drugs when they set out to commit crimes.
ATS, he said, was the kind of drugs used by kamikaze pilots in World War Two before their suicide dives. ATS users are also likely to end up with mental health problems.