Archive for March, 2014

Fear Mongering

March 5, 2014

TMI reports that participants at a forum called “Time to Reform the Police Force” were told that Malaysians no longer feel safe. Apparently to back the claim that crime was rampant, R Sanjeevan, the chairman of so-called crime watchdog, MyWatch, produced figures that showed that “67 murders were reported in the first two months of the year while more than 6,000 motorcycle thefts and over 900 cases of criminal intimidation were also reported in the same period“.

To add to the shock value, he claimed these figures were “leaked” to him, which I suppose is meant to imply that this is something that the government doesn’t want people to know about.

The numbers do look big, don’t they? Of course,  1 murder is 1 too many, but do the numbers really show that crime in Malaysia is now out of control as the article suggests?  Let’s compare the figures with statistics from other countries and also with how Malaysia has done in the past. Since international statistics on motorcycle theft and criminal intimidation are rather hard to come by, let’s look at the number for murders.

If we extrapolate the figures for the first 2 months to the whole year, we would expect to end up with 67 murders * 365 days / 59 days = 414.5 murders for the whole year. Usually statistics for the murder rate are expressed in number of murders per 100,000 people per year. Malaysia’s population just turned 30 million, so 414.5 murders per year would give us a murder rate of:

(414.5 murders  * 100,000 people) / 30,000,000 people

=   1.38 murders per 100,000 people per year

So, how are we doing compared to other countries? This site has a nice convenient table that ranks countries by the rate of murder  (or “intentional homicide” as the UN calls it).

1.38 would put us at 151st place out of 190 countries (1 being the country with the highest murder rate and 190 having the lowest). Certainly not the best, but respectable nonetheless. We are quite a way off the likes of Japan (0.4) and Singapore (0.31) but still much better than the USA (4.75) and neighbours Indonesia (8.07), Thailand (4.76) and the Philippines (5.39).

What is more interesting, though, is that 1.38 would be significantly better  than our own 2006 figure of 2.27. In fact, the rate would be lower than every year for which the UN has data:

Country or Area Year Count Rate Source Source Type
Malaysia 2006 604 2.3 CTS CJ
Malaysia 2005 497 1.9 CTS CJ
Malaysia 2000 551 2.4 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1999 588 2.6 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1998 629 2.8 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1997 540 2.5 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1996 447 2.1 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1995 396 1.9 CTS CJ

As for more recent years, official figures show that there were 602 murders in 2012 and 478 for the first 9 months of 2013. Again, the projected 414.5 would be an improvement on these years as well.

The numbers, at least for murder, do not indicate that violent crime is getting much worse, if at all. So why do Malaysians feel less safe these days? Perhaps people like Mr Sanjeevan should look in the mirror to find the answer.

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Quoting the Bible

March 4, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim has been defending his recent visit to the Holy Family Church in Kajang.  Below is an excerpt from the TMI report:

Anwar who had quoted from the Quran while talking at the Holy Family Church, tonight quoted from the bible to drive home his point on religious tolerance.

Anwar quoted from the bible saying: “‘You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me: every tongue will acknowledge God‘,” Anwar read.

He said with the message that he had just sent, the public should stop judging one another and work towards understanding each other

It is clear that in this case, Anwar was talking about relations between Christians and Muslims. Anwar was speaking to a group of Muslims, so the “brother or sister” in the above quote would refer to the Christians.  Now, I find Anwar’s choice of biblical verses to quote from quite interesting. The verses are Romans 14:10 and 14:11.

The Epistle to the Romans was written by the apostle Paul and this particular chapter dealt with the tensions that had arisen in Rome at the time between the Jewish Christian converts and the Gentiles. The Jewish converts insisted on observing Jewish dietary customs and holy days which the Gentiles and Paul himself felt were no longer required by  their new faith. For this, the Gentiles had viewed them with contempt, and on their part, the Jewish converts judged the Gentiles for not keeping to the old laws.  Although Paul did not agree with the Jewish converts, he did not view them as being wrong because they were sincere in their belief. Essentially, what Paul was saying is that differences in things like food or sacred days were not important but their shared conviction in Jesus as their Lord and saviour was.

So, why would Anwar think that these verses are relevant to Muslim-Christian relations in Malaysia?  Does he liken today’s Christians and Muslims to the Jewish converts and the Gentiles that Paul was referring to?  Does he mean to say that the differences between Muslims and Christians are similarly inconsequential, and that what matters is their shared belief in the same God? Sure sounds like it to me.

You know what else it sounds like? Take a look at the definition below:

Religious pluralism generally refers to the belief in two or more religious worldviews as being equally valid or acceptable. More than mere tolerance, religious pluralism accepts multiple paths to God or gods as a possibility and is usually used in contrast with “exclusivism,” the idea that there is only one true religion or way to know God.