PETALING JAYA - Several restaurants in Kuala
Lumpur and Selangor have hired armed guards following recent attacks on diners
at eateries by robbers armed with parangs.
The spate of crime, including burglars who entered the bungalow of Youth and
Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in bright daylight last week, has led to
debate on whether the repeal of an emergency law - that put criminal kingpins
behind bars without going through the courts - had led to the more brazen acts.
The government in 2011 abolished the Emergency Ordinance (EO), as part of its
reform programme after being pushed by Malaysian rights groups. Its abolition
led to the release of 2,000 hardened criminals, including leaders of crime
groups and gangsters, officials say.
The case of diners at restaurants in shophouses being hit by robbers late at
night or in the wee hours of the morning began several months ago in KL and
several Selangor suburbs.
In one case, eight parang-wielding men robbed customers and the restaurant
owner of RM24,000 (S$9,600) in cash and mobile phones at 4am.
To avoid a similar fate, the South Sea Seafood Restaurant in Kampung Baru
Subang, located just outside KL, has invested in extra security.
"It is an unusual and costly move for a restaurant but we feel that
prevention is better than cure," said restaurant owner Terence Wong, 42.
"We had heard about restaurants being targeted by robbers so we decided to
engage an armed guard a month ago."
The failure to hire such armed guards had proven to be costly for the owners of
the Lala Chong Seafood Restaurant, which has two outlets.
Robbers armed with parangs hit its outlet at the upmarket Ara Damansara estate
Manager Wong Thian Foh, 35, said the company had security personnel for its
other restaurant but felt the one in Ara Damansara was safe as it was located
in an upper-class neighbourhood.
"The Ara Damansara restaurant ended up being an easy target for
robbers," he said. Since the incident, more security guards have been
hired for both restaurants.
"We are also looking at arming all our security guards in spite of the
added costs," said Mr Wong.
Added to this is the series of cases where criminals brought trucks to
literally cart away bank teller machines in the early hours of the morning.
Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terrorism) director Mohamad Fuzi
Harun said police needed the preventive laws such as the EO as existing legal
mechanisms were insufficient to put away hardened criminals.
Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said intelligence reports showed that
some of the released EO detainees had returned to a life of violent crime. But sceptics of the EO said the law had been abused to arrest
political opponents of the government, and it must not be used as a short cut
for sloppy investigations to nail a criminal.