kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Who’s watching the guards?

At this time last week, 17-year-old Intan Suraya Mawardi already lay dead in her room. The poor hapless girl was allegedly raped and killed by her boyfriend, a 20-year-old security guard at a primary school in Penang.

It was a sad story indeed, as details of what purportedly happened unfolded before a shocked nation. Police had said the boyfriend had admitted to perpetrating the crime and led them to where he hid two knives, believed to have been the murder weapons, and Intan Suraya’s mobile phone.

In spite of the purported confession, whether or not he did the horrible deed is best left to police to investigate and the courts to determine.

What is of equal importance is the fact that this 20-year-old was a security guard — at a primary school, no less — despite the fact that he had a criminal record for a drug-related offence.

It was also recently revealed that he had been arrested last year in connection with a burglary, along with a friend.

Police investigations led them to believe he was not involved in the break-in; the burglary tools found in his possession purportedly belonging instead to the friend, who was eventually charged.

The fact of the matter is that security companies are supposed to perform thorough background checks on potential employees.

These checks include criminal backgrounds. Whether someone has a criminal record or not is something that is of prime importance when background checks are conducted.

It is obvious that such background checks were not conducted in this case. This is the only thing that can explain how a man with a criminal record can be hired by a security firm.

This paper, in fact, had spoken to a colleague of the man, who said that he, too, was hired without having a background check conducted.

The colleague said he and the other guards hired by the company were only made to go through eye and hearing tests.

There are those who say convicts should be given a second chance after getting out of prison, that people should give them a chance to reintegrate into society at large.

They have served their time, paid for their mistakes. They should be given a chance if they are truly repentant.

True. They should. If they are truly repentant, society should give them a second chance.

Let them earn an honest living as everyone deserves that. In fact, not giving them a second chance could turn out to instead be detrimental to society itself.

If a man or woman who has served his or her sentence and been released from prison does not find gainful employment once in the free world, then chances are high indeed that he or she may return to a life of crime out of desperation.

But there are certain jobs which former criminals should not have access to. One such job is as a security guard. The requirement by the Home Ministry is a sound one.

As Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a few days ago, this is something which involves the lives of people.
I just like the photo ...

Security guards at a certification ceremony in Kuala Lumpur recently. Security firms are supposed to perform thorough background checks on potential employees, including for a criminal record. Pic by Sairien Nafis
It is something that cannot be compromised.

The company which hired the man and all companies that flout regulations by neglecting to conduct background checks risk having their licences revoked.

Again, there can be no compromises here. The Home Ministry should — it must — revoke the licences of such companies.

These rogue companies are putting the very lives of the people they are supposed to be protecting at risk.

Kudos to the ministry that, within a few days of the revelation that the boyfriend of Intan Suraya had a criminal record, sent enforcement officers to the school where he had stood guard and the Penang branch office of the Kuala Lumpur-based security firm that hired him.

That the branch office had been closed for some time is another matter altogether.

The company is now under investigation and has been issued a show-cause letter which, if it fails to reply, will lead to a revocation of its licence.

But more needs to be done. We need to be proactive, and not just reactive.

We cannot wait till something happens before we act.

One suggestion is for the ministry to conduct frequent, random checks on security firms to ensure that they constantly toe the line as far as regulations are concerned.

People should be able to rest assured that their lives are in good hands when they have security guards. The ministry has the means to do this and, as public servants, the duty to aid the rakyat.

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