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Monday, March 8, 2010

In Kelantan, crime-fighting begins in the mosque

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and Mohd Zulharman  | malaysianinsider | KOTA BARU, 5 March 2010

When Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi gave his first Friday prayers “khutbah” or sermon at a mosque in Langgar wearing a police uniform three years ago, Kelantan was graced by a “revolution”.

This revolution is not merely the fact that the 52 year-old Kelantan chief police officer was the first uniformed man to read out a sermon but a trigger to a paradigm shift that would differentiate the state’s police force from those of others.

“It’s all about giving it a personal touch,” the jovial and amiable Abdul Rahim told The Malaysian Insider in an interview at his office here earlier this week.
“I felt that the usual methods, mass lunch or dinner events, are superficial and ineffective compared to a method that is more personal and direct,” said the Kelantan CPO, who graduated with a degree in Islamic studies from UKM.

This “personal touch” has now become one of the Kelantan police’s major weapon in fighting crimes which is why Abdul Rahim has made it a point that his khutbah and taskirah (lecture) are given once a month in mosques throughout the state.

Khutbahs are followed with the erection of educational booths around the mosque’s compound.

Paying fines are also made convenient as traffic-ticket counters are set up at mosques where the Kelantan CPO speaks.

According to the Kedah native, the response from the sermons and booths have been overwhelmingly positive.

The crime rate has dropped since Langgar while more members of the public have joined in the fight against crime through the Rakan Cop programme.

“See with khutbah, there are no lies. You cannot twist facts and you base your sermon on Islamic teachings so people listen to you easier than the usual motivational speeches,” said Abdul Rahim.

“I tell you this, I don’t know about other places but in Kelantan, the people respect the police,” he said.

“You have to be adaptable. You have to know how to talk to the various age groups, you have to touch them, make the engagement very personal,” he added.

Abdul Rahim has been receiving tremendous support from the PAS state government and the state’s monarch. Unlike some Pakatan Rakyat governed states, the friendly Kelantan CPO has good relations with the state government.

All this said Abdul Rahim are the fruits of his unorthodox approach to policing, and his belief in the human touch.