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Borneo, Kuching, Sarawak, Sarawakian

Shall we use more surveillance cameras to fight crime in Kuching?

WELL it seems that the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has decided to install 54 new surveillance cameras around the town to improve security.

While I don’t really fancy being watched by Big Brother all the time, sadly CCTVs seem to be a necessity these days.

Think about how many locals and, even worse, tourists have fallen victim to snatchers in Kuching city over the past few years.

Nearly every day, my morning paper will have a story (or more) of some poor soul – usually a woman – who has fallen victim to snatch thieves.

I know that some ladies in Kuching city no longer wear any gold jewellery for fear of falling victim to these lowlifes.

When they go to ATM machines, they are always fearful and suspicious of those around them.

While I agree it is good to be aware of one’s surroundings and to always be alert and on the lookout, it is sad that the good citizens of this city have to worry about being robbed by snatchers all the time.

Men also fall victim to these scum. A friend of the family – who is in his 60’s – was slashed on the arm and robbed after withdrawing a small sum at an ATM one Sunday morning!

So much for a city with a soul.

I realise that the local councils are trying to address this problem with the installation of fences all over the city, and while I understand their purpose, I have to agree with arguments that they are rather aesthetically-challenged!

Perhaps more surveillance cameras could be a solution. While the cameras would not stop the crimes immediately, they might help to catch the criminals and then act as a preventive measure in the long-run.

Perhaps the councils and police could take things a step further by publishing the photos or airing the videos of the offenders.

Who wants to be on an episode of ‘Caught on Camera’ for the whole world to see? Not only would the crooks be convicted, they would also face the shame of being exposed to the world – their family, friends, neighbours, villagers etc.

So if a safer city means being watched by Big Brother, so be it.

The report from The Borneo Post:

Surveillance cameras effective in reducing street crimes

SIBU: A total of 54 surveillance cameras will be installed at various strategic locations by the end of the year as Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) beefs up security in the town area.

SMC chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said 12 surveillance cameras were already functioning.

“Over the next two months, we’ll put up 42 new units,” he said when launching the `Sibu Urban Surveillance System’ at police headquarters yesterday.

He said the council , in collaboration with the police, had decided on the locations for the new units.

The fi rst of the existing 12 units was installed in 2008. All 12 were put up through sponsorships by the private sector, he said.

He said the cameras helped authorities keep crime hotspots under surveillance.

“All CCTVs would be linked to the police operation centre via broadband or fibre optics, and would be closely monitored by the cops.

“The system gives real-time images and recording. Recordings can be played back anytime. I believe this facility is a good deterrent in our combat against crimes,” he said.

The council is making the effort in line with the government’s six national key result areas (NKRAs).

“Since 2010, we have set up a Safe City Committee comprising SMC, police and other government departments.

“Working closely with the Federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Ministry of Home Affairs, SMC has carried out many safe city initiatives,” he said, singling out the creation of a pedestrian-friendly city as one.

“This includes turning most streets into one-way traffic, creating ample space on both sides of the roads for pedestrians, and levelling most of the uneven five-foot ways for safe walking,” he explained.

The council has also cleared five-foot ways of obstacles such as goods displayed and motorcycles.

“We have also segregated pedestrians from motor vehicles by putting in place potted plants, barricades and bollards at suitable locations,” he pointed out.

Pedestrian safety was enhanced with many squeeze points and safety mirrors along main streets.

The second initiative was increasing the number of street lights in town and commercial areas to deter street crimes. The locations include Mahsuri Road, Pedada Commercial Centre, and the former Mist Garden.

“Thirdly, we have installed many metal bars along motorcycle parking bays to enable motorcyclists to lock or secure their vehicles.

“This will help prevent or deter motorcycle theft, which is still rampant in Sibu,” he said.

Calling on every one to play a part in crime prevention, Tiong said: “Crime prevention does not rely solely on enforcement authorities, urban design and surveillance tools.

“One of the best ways to take part in crime prevention is to become more alert and aware of what is going on around you,” he advised.

Disheartened by acts of vandalism in town such as damaging traffic lights and
theft of manhole covers, he said these two were the most irresponsible acts of vandalism the council had come across these few years.

Also present at the launch were the council’s deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng, secretary Hii Chang Kee, Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail and Pansar Group and Emastech Sdn Bhd managing director Jason Tai.

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