Malaysia was once well-regarded for being one of the safer cities in South East Asia. Now, however, a recent string of high profile shootings is calling into question the city’s crime records. Indeed, police statistics have found that violent crimes are on the rise, recording over 15,000 violent crimes in the first half of 2013. Although Malaysia heavily restricts the ownership and use of guns,  74 of these crimes involved firearms.

Malaysia

High profile people gunned down in Malaysia

The most high profile shooting was the cold-blooded murder of Hussain Ahmad Najadi, the founder of Arab Malaysian Banking Group (Ambank), one of Malaysia’s largest financial firms. Hussain Ahmad Najadi was gunned down in a parking lot at the Kuan Yin Temple. His wife was also seriously injured in the attack but is expected to survive. The murder appears to have been a premeditated “hit,” though details remain murky. The shooting occurred on July 29 in broad daylight.

On the same day, a man was shot dead in Ipoh, a large and wealthy city in northern Malaysia. Two other people were injured in the shooting, which occurred at a restaurant. The victim, Mr. Singh, approached a car when suddenly gun fire rang out and he was shot in the head. Patrons at the restaurant believe that an automatic gun was used.

On July 28, R. Sri Sanjeevan, the founder of an anti-crime watchdog was shot in his BMW while waiting at an intersection. Mr. Sanjeevan is in a stable condition and is expected to recover. He is awaiting surgery to have a bullet removed from his ribs. Mr. Sanjeevan is the founder of MyWatch crime, a group that has been arguing that police manipulate crime statistics and has been leading a public campaign to raise awareness of organized crime. Mr. Sanjeevan has claimed that he has received death threats in the past due to his work.

Gun owners in Malaysia should obtain special permit

The National Shooting Club has stated that the names of legal gun owners should be made public. Whether or not the shootings have been carried out by legal gun carriers, however, remains unclear. It is possible that most of the shootings are being carried out with illegal weapons and publishing names will accomplish little. Gun owners in Malaysia must obtain a special gun permit and register with the government.

The ruling government, Barisan Nasional (BN), is under intense pressure to reduce crime. BN barely won the recent elections and actually lost the popular vote to Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Crime was a major issue during the elections and PR has promised that it will reduce crime once it gains power. Rising crime statistics will undoubtedly damage BN’s already suffering image and fuel the opposition.

At the same time, the Malaysian police have come under intense scrutiny due to the number of deaths in custody. So far this year, 12 people have already died while in custody of the police.  Only 3 police officers have yet been charged in these cases, all three relating to the death of a single individual. Some 230 people have died in custody since 2000, and the police are often regarded as widely corrupt in Malaysia. Bribes are often the norm, with citizens able to pay off traffic tickets, ranging from speeding to drunk driving, by simply paying off police officers.