March 3, 2010, Wednesday
WHILE it is frightening that the crime rate in Sarawak has increased over the years, it is heartening to know that the state government and relevant authorities (especially the police) are looking into ways to fight crime and reduce its rate.The path to success is not straight and unending.
We are dealing with the ‘underworld’, with people who are either pushed to crime by forces beyond their control — forces from within and from without — or people whose consciences are so hardened that they no longer make any distinction between moral good and moral evil, or people who are simply thrilled by war with enforcement authorities.
And even as authorities have broken some syndicates and think they have worked out good strategies to score greater victory, the ‘underworld’ is also working hard to fight back — and to come up with better strategies and tactics.
On these grounds, we cannot take things for granted and we should embark on a broader strategy that takes into account certain important realities.
Importance of integrity
The very basic attitudes authorities must adopt are honesty, courage and strong will.
Honesty must be shown in the catching and handling of criminals — regardless of their race, status and position.
Bringing these criminals to the court of law of the country without fear or favour is vital to the fight against crime.
Resisting the temptation to accept bribes offered to have crime covered up is part of the honesty that must be shown.
Obviously, courage and the will to pursue every case till it is solved must also prevail.
Such attitudes will lend credibility to the powers that be and this will in its own way contribute to the reduction of crime.
Equal opportunities for all
In all honesty, we must admit that there is a strong perception that citizens are treated and given opportunities differently — depending on race, religion, family, economic and social class, etc.
There is a very big gap between the rich minority and the great majority who are of the lower income group.
It is not that all those of the latter group are not hard working.
The impression is that some are not given the same opportunities as their fellow Sarawakians who have made it in life.
It is not surprising that some of the very poor yield to the temptation to get rich through illegal or even immoral ways.
Perhaps, not having access to opportunities in many cases is due to lack of qualifications — and generally it is educational qualifications.
As such there is a need to address this gap.
The importance of religion and spiritual life
It is encouraging to see progress in our country and state. Progress seems to focus solely on economic and technological fields.
But progress, to be holistic must also be achieved in the religious and spiritual dimension of man’s life.
The crime rate will be substantially reduced if people are God-fearing.
Students must be taught their religions from young.
Young people who grow up not having a deep faith in and strong relationship with God become easy prey to promiscuity, drug addiction, gambling and undesirable behaviour.
Also, many are so drawn towards money — that money is no longer their servant but god. And when money becomes god, the consequences are horrific.
A crime-free society has for its prerequisite in deep belief and commitment to God.
Information technology has made the whole world a global village.
This has brought great advantages to all humanity.
But there is also damage.
The undesirable values young children are drowned with — some of which are even sub-cultural if not totally anti-cultural — are shocking.
They have distorted if not perverted some citizens and led them to crime.
There is no way that the authorities will be able to control or prevent the impact of globalisation on citizens.
Mounting police vigilance is impossible. One indispensable alternative to vigilance is to build up the religious sense and moral conscience of citizens.
Efforts must be expended in order to build up good healthy families.
Children of broken homes are vulnerable to crime.
It is good to see the government trying to foster family health through the five-day working week — allowing the weekends for family activities.
But even this positive step will not be effective unless parents spend time with their children.
Good families will form good citizens — again, another way to reduce the crime rate.
While the intention is good, implementing it for students who have just finished their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) may be a little late in the day.
It could still be of value — but should come in as the ‘crown’ of the entire character formation and patriotism programme implemented already from Primary 1.
Some churches have school holiday camps for their followers.
Unfortunately, not many children attend them.
The government could work with various religious groups in the state to get such programmes going.
Archbishop John Ha leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuching. The 3rd Voice, initiated by AZAM and SDI is published fortnightly.