Improve entire criminal justice system, suggests Malaysian lecturer

PETALING JAYA - Escalating gun crimes can only be addressed by improving the entire criminal justice system, said criminologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat.

"Hardcore criminals don't know and wouldn't care even if they knew about the death penalty and the harsh penalties imposed for gun crimes.

"We have laws. Do they know about these laws? They don't value life including their own," said Dr Geshina, a Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Forensic Science Programme lecturer.

She said escalating gun crimes could only be addressed by improving the entire criminal justice system.

"Criminals are not stupid. The police need to be equipped and trained to be one step ahead of them," she said.

At the same time, the lengthy process involved in charging offenders must be addressed.

Dr Geshina pointed out that there were not enough magistrates to even tackle regular criminal cases.

"Some cases take years to dispose of," she said.

Dr Geshina claimed that there was no concrete evidence to show that the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) had been causing the spike in gun-related crimes.

"There is no way to know if former EO detainees are involved unless they are actually caught," she said.

However, fellow criminologist Dr P. Sundramoorty believes that criminals have become emboldened with the repeal of the EO and the number of violent crimes have increased due to this.

"They know very well there is no longer any preventive detention and they are more daring (now)," said the head of USM's research team on crime and policing.

Some form of preventive detention was needed because gun crimes were extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute, he added.