Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Gated Communities, A Security Failure

Written by johnleemk on 12:45:38 pm Jun 12, 2007.
Categories: ,

In Malaysia, a greatly demanded feature of almost any housing development is the promise of security — a "gated community", in other words. People want to be assured that they will have guards patrolling the area and that nobody can simply enter the community.

Being a gated community is often a huge selling point for many real estate developments, and it's impossible to visit any new middle-class housing estate these days without being confronted by a guard post.

To most people, this is nothing out of the extraordinary. Hiring people to provide you with security is simply another trapping of the middle-class lifestyle that anyone aspires to.

What is worrying is that this is a sign of how our police force, which is badly in need of reform, has failed. Our boys in blue have failed to provide the people they serve with the security they deserve.

What do we pay our taxes for? Is it so our policemen can dawdle in a shaded area, collecting bribes for minor traffic offenses? Is it so our policemen can make female detainees do nude squats?

We pay taxes so we can be safe. Security is one of the fundamental reasons a government exists — to provide citizens with security from external and internal threats.

That we have to resort to paying hired hands to keep our homes safe while we sleep is a sign of how badly our government has failed us. It is not a sign of a "developed state" (as the Chief Minister of Selangor infamously proclaimed Selangor to be), but a sign of a failed state.

These "gated communities" were not around 50 years ago when we won independence, despite it being the height of the communist threat! Back then, we could actually rely on the government to keep us somewhat safe!

Moreover, this is just the beginning. Today, we may just enforce security checks at the entrance of our houses. Tomorrow, we may be helicoptering out of our homes, as the elite of Pakistan do from their housing estates.

In "developed states", living in a gated community is a sign of immense luxury! American leaders and celebrities are mocked for living in gated communities — not admired.

Our government has let us down. It has failed to provide us with the security we deserve. In countries like the United States, at least there is a tradeoff between liberty and security.

In this country, we not only lack the freedom to think and say what we think, but we cannot even be safe in our homes while we think. One American intellectual said that a people who would give up liberty for security deserve neither.

Well, Malaysians have given up both liberty and security. Do we deserve either? Not as long as we keep voting an incompetent government into power.


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