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If Malaysians have a negative perception of the police force, and also the kind of feedback the police give us on crime, they are not to be blamed as the Polis Diraja Malaysia or PDRM has, despite attempts to boost their image, always been singled out as possibly the most corrupt and inefficient arm of the BN-led government.
It’s a pity and crying shame that the police force is now viewed with fear and contempt rather than in the past when police officers were admired for their bravery and courage, when the force was known to attract dedicated and disciplined men and women of character and substance.
Gone are those days when people could depend and count on the police to keep them safe, there were no negative vibes or perception of the police force or the crime rate and statistics, as there was no need to doubt or fear the police unless you had committed a crime.
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Negative perception of police
Police bashing, the breach of trust towards the police or the negative kind of opinion people have of the police force is not new in Malaysia.
Most Malaysians (and this is not a perception) are of the view that the police are generally corrupt and inept.
Malaysians often complain, even foreigners do not escape notice of the kind of or semblance of policing that is done in Malaysia.
Policemen in the country generally come across as high-handed, arrogant and intimidating.
This kind of behavior, however, the police usually display on innocent people and it is perhaps to strike fear or demand and command respect from the people whereas in the case of real policing, nothing much is done.
PDRM often comes out with propaganda that they are boosting the image of the force and improving on professionalism but in real life people do not see the police force improving but getting from real bad to real worse.
The kind of apathy and indifference shown by police officers towards crime that people complain of is unheard of in countries where the crime rate is under control.
The truth of the matter is that the wages offered and perks and benefits given to the police force usually attracts those who want a soft, comfortable life where they can “makan gaji” (earn a living without effort) and perhaps boost their earnings further by soliciting for bribes or taking advantage of wearing a police uniform.
Rising number of black sheep
These kind of facts about the police force are not perception but reality and common knowledge among people who have observed them or been victims of the police themselves.
While you can concede to the fact that there are good and efficient and trustworthy police officers in the rank and file of PDRM, unfortunately the perception people believe in is that there are more black sheep now than professional police officers.
Expecting the police force to change overnight is impossible.
When asked for facts and figures on the crime rate and statistics, what is usually dispensed are glowing and doctored reports which gives the impression that all is well in the country and that crime is under control. Even conflicting reports can be provided.
Reported and unreported crime
The problem is when people begin to share their experiences of crime and the couldn’t-care- less attitude of the police force towards victims, when these people begin to share and compare notes, we begin to understand why there is probably a reluctance by victims to come forward and report crime.
The negative perception of crime, the police force and their attitude and approach towards policing is the reason for the rising and dangerous trend of not reporting crime.
It is anyone’s guess how many crimes go unreported but to believe that there are probably more crimes that go unreported than reported is definitely not a negative perception given the state of security in the country now.
Lawlessness and ill behavior is on the rise, as well as disregard and disrespect because people have no real fear of the police believing that they can get off the hook by pushing some money in the form of a bribe or using their positions of power and authority to get away with whatever crime or wrongdoing they have done.
This is the general impression or perception of the PDRM by Malaysians and it should not be read as negative perceptions but hard, true facts about the police force in this country which is why it is difficult to stem the tide of rising crime.
Root of problem
Corruption is the root of the problem within the police force and it has escalated to alarming levels whereby the top brass right down to the average constable has been infiltrated by ideas and acts of participating in corruption in big and small ways.
It has become so bad and the perception so negative that Malaysians not only have to worry about crime they also have to worry about the police force that is supposed to help keep crime under control.
The problems besetting the Malaysian police force do not appear to be so on the surface, but as we get to the bottom of why Malaysians have such negative sentiments about the police force and policing, we begin to understand why and this is because the transgressions of Malaysian police officers have begun to be felt and are beginning to affect more and more Malaysians.
The ensuing result is for Malaysians to accept that the situation cannot be resolved and to accept the fact that corruption within and by the PDRM has become a way of life and for Malaysians to accept their fate that this is the way how life is governed in Malaysia now.
Negative perception becomes truth
This is why the negative perception of the police has grown stronger and more widespread over the years. This is really a crying shame and a big blow to former and retired police officers who served with so much distinction and pride and who now do not wish to be even associated with their former employers.
The need for a major revamp and overhaul of Malaysia’s police force has been long overdue.
It is hoped that some form of change and betterment can be gained that negative sentiments, impressions and perceptions will give way to the true, hard facts about crime and criminals in this country and that corruption within the police force itself can be arrested in the first place.
For more and more Malaysians, the PDRM have to realize that their reality has given way to perception, and it is the perception of the people towards the police force and on crime rates and statistics that is now more believable to Malaysians, than the so-called reality put forth by the police.