Monday, March 19, 2012

Is Malaysia The Most Peaceful Country In South East Asia And 19th In The World?

It seems that Global Peace Index has ranked Malaysia as the most peaceful country in South East Asia last year and the 19th in the world, even outranking Singapore who is placed just behind Malaysia in South East Asia and 24th in world ranking!

This has brought out the smirks on the faces of Malaysians who are cynical of the findings. As well we might. Most of us ordinary Malaysians don't feel safe even in our own homes, let alone on the streets where snatch thefts go unabated for example.

Criminals are even cavalier enough to tail a potential victim right up to his/her home to rob!

"Bollocks" like how one Malaysia Chronicle reader said in reference to the findings. "This is bullshit" said another.

"Tell that to the parents of the little girl who was just murdered recently in JB" lamented another.

Another cynical reader opined "19th safest in the world - count from bottom up. That should be the position...right?"

Before one accepts the findings as meaningful gospel truth, one would be better off  studying the methodology used and the data considered.

There were altogether 23 indicators used to establish the existence or absence of peace. These were  classified into 3 broad categories:

1. Ongoing domestic and international conflict
2. Safety and Security in society and
3. Militarisation

The data considered included the number of homicides per 100,000 population; the number of jailed persons per 100,000 population; the number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population and military expenditures as percentage of GDP.

Here is where the results of the findings may not necessarily match empirical evidence and why Malaysia seems to be ranked more peaceful than our southern neighbour Singapore!

Consider what one perceptive reader wrote to Malaysia Chronicle :-

There are several flaws in the methodology used to collate the results in this survey
One major item that seems contentious involves interpretation of the number of jailed person per 100,000pax
Singapore has a very high figure compared to Malaysia.
The reasoning is that if you have many people in jail, it could indirectly mean that the country is full of criminals.
However it could also be argued that a country with much less people in jail could simply mean that the criminals are not arrested and walking around still commiting crimes.
So if the state dont incarcerate these criminals and ALSO dont go after the criminals commiting crime on the street, the crime rate, officially would appear low, whilst the prison dept would also show low inmate volume, the country is considered safe. This may seem outrageous and stupid.
This is one glaring flaw in the Methodology and many countries do not consider to this survey as sound or fair.
There are many other flaws such as defence expenditure etc
lf you are interested in the details, you can go and view it at the Global Peace lndex wikipedia

What about the high number of police to population ratio we have? Some 100,000 to a population of 28 million, considered to be one of the highest in the world? Does having more police personnel make the country more peaceful?

What about the some 200,000 strong Rela personnel? Was that included in the survey?

What about the many crimes not reported because the rakyat have become cynical of our police force?

What about...

Ultimately, there were too many factors considered, some not really directly related to the reality and especially to  the perception of safety/peace to make the results really meaningful.

Does increased or high military spending make the country more safe or peaceful per se? Especially here in Malaysia where the actual amounts spent on military purchases may not really reflect on the true value owing to what many Malaysians have come to perceive to be corrupt practice in their procurement?

For example we spent several billion ringgit to purchase two French Scorpene submarines that could not dive and we had to spend more to set things right. And does the purchase of two submarines make Malaysians feel safer or more peaceful?

Many are wondering of what use the subs are to Malaysia because of the shallow waters here?

Update 1: Just how not so safe it still is in Malaysia is illustrated by another incidence of snatch theft where the victims were even splashed with acid. Click here to read.

Update 2: It should really have read some 2.5 million Rela members and not 200,000 as stated above! My apologies.

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