Monday, October 12, 2009

When cameras real or fake do the trick

WHEN I suggested that we move to Cyberjaya, my wife was worried.

As she was fond of Kuala Lumpur, she said she would prefer to stay put and stated that she would not entertain such flights of fancy any further.

I told her I was only kidding and promptly explained myself.

The reason why I had toyed with the idea of moving to Cyberjaya was because I had read that Cyberjaya was being monitored by 100 closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) manned by a team of police officers round the clock.

Iwas salivating at the prospect of a neighbourhood kept safer by technology.

According to the report, roads to shopping areas, intersections and pedestrian walkways had been installed with CCTVs.

Now, how much safer can one’s neighbourhood get than that? Years ago, the business community in downtown Malacca did the same thing when petty crime soared.

The CCTVs were installed and their locations loudly announced by sign a g e s.

I later spoke to some of the shopkeepers there and they admitted that petty crime had dropped a bit following the installation of the cameras.

The CCTVs had done their job and the tourists had returned.

When I was in Singapore some time back, I was amazed at the road courtesy shown by the bus drivers.

They kept to the speed limit and drove in an orderly manner without any sign of impatience.

When I arrived at Queen’s Street, I praised the driver of the yellow bus I took for his good driving habit.

I told him I wished I could say the same about the bus drivers in Kuala Lump u r.

He turned around and whispered to me that if not for the electronic eyes mounted on the gantries, few would have been that obedient.

The fear of having their driving licences suspended and the subsequent loss of job had much to do in instilling road courtesy in the bus drivers across the Causeway.

One chap I know who lived in a notorious neighbourhood in Kepong decided to use CCTV technology following numerous break-ins at his apartment complex.

He went down to Petaling Street and got himself a couple of dome-shaped devices which had flickering red lights and promptly installed them in front of his doorway and on the eaves of his balcony.

While his neighbours were losing sleep over how to keep watch on their property when they went to work, this chap went on long holidays without any worries.

Whenhe returned, not even a slipper was missing from his doorstep.

When he related his experience to me, I asked him what brand of surveillance system he had used so that I could get one installed at my condominium unit.

He said I could get them at novelty shops for less than RM20 each.

In fact, they weren’t even real cameras but they certainly looked menacing enough with their flashing LEDs to deter any criminal.

If fakes could be effective in deterring crime, I am amazed at why the real cameras mounted at certain stretches in the city rarely had any effect on some city drivers.

Each day while on the way to work, I would amuse myself counting the cars and motorcycles which sped through amber and red lights.

Sometimes, the same vehicle would beat the red lights several times a week.

Along the Jalan Bangsar-Jalan Travers stretch, near the junction to Brickfields, for instance, I see cars parked by the road sides on weekday evenings, choking the already jammed roads while their drivers enjoyed teh tarik along the five-footw ay.

Buses too can be seen switching lanes without regard for other motor ists’ right of way.

I sawa CCTV camera not far down the road but I wonder if it has served its purpose judging from the daily crowd of errant motorists flouting the law right under its electronic eye.

Maybe it’s one of those novelty stuff you get at Petaling Street.

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